By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV, Port Moresby
Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs are the world’s leading killer diseases, according to the World Health Organisation.
WHO released its latest Global tuberculosis report 2015 in Washington on October 28, detailing the current state of the TB epidemic in the world. The report reveals that even though the death rate of TB in 2015 is half of what it was in 1990, there is much more that needs to be done globally to end the TB epidemic.
The world has seen remarkable progress since the Millennium Development Goals were adapted in 2000; overall, the MDG goal to reduce incidence rates of TB by 2015 was globally achieved, having dropped annually by 1.5 per cent since the turn of the millennium and a total reduction rare of 18 per cent.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported in 2014 that TB prevalence in PNG is the highest in the Pacific region, and among the highest in the world, with 541 cases per 100,000 every year.
The progress made is welcoming news; however, WHO is adamant that in this modern era where TB is easily diagnosed and curable, the improvements so far are insufficient.
About 4, 400 TB patients die every day; last year, TB claimed the lives of 1.5 million people – 890,000 men, 480,000 women and 140,000 children; 400,000 of them were HIV positive.
Compared to the HIV death toll of 2014, TB ranked higher. It was estimated that about 1.2 million people died from HIV. The statistics showing clearly that TB accounts for higher totals worldwide with more than half of the cases in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan with 3.3 per cent of newly diagnosed TB patients having multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).
The report calls for TB detection and treatment gaps and funding problems to be thoroughly addressed. Developing new diagnostics, vaccines and drugs are also concerns highlighted by the report.