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Oct 28, 2015 01:45 PM EDT

Tuberculosis rivals AIDS as global killer, says WHO

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A new report released by World Health Organization says that tuberculosis rivals HIV/AIDS as a leading cause of death from infectious diseases, Reuters reports.

The report mentioned that during 2014, 1.1 million people died of TB globally, while 1.2 million people died due to HIV/AIDS during the same period.

Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO TB program, said the positive aspect of the report is that it shows that more people have gained access to HIV/AIDS treatment in the past decade, which has helped many people survive their infections.

However, he said that the report reflects difference in funding for the two diseases that are the leading global killers. He noted that international funding for HIV/AIDS was 10 times higher than for TB, with $8 billion spent on HIV/AIDS interventions, compared with a total of $800,000 spent on TB.

"The good news is that TB intervention has saved some 43 million lives since 2000," but given that most cases of TB can be successfully treated, the death rate remained "unacceptably high," Raviglione said in a telephone interview.

The report covers data from 205 countries and territories on all aspects of TB that includes drug-resistant forms, research and development and financing.

Dr. Grania Brigden, interim medical director of Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, said the report "should serve as a wake-up call that enormous work still needs to be done to reduce the burden of this ancient, yet curable disease."

Raviglione said it is time to start funding TB to make a bigger difference in curbing global deaths.

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Tags tb, HIV
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