This Was the Deadliest Infectious Disease of 2016, According to WHO
6.3 million cases.
1.7 million deaths.
That is the yearly toll of tuberculosis (TB), according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Despite scientific advancements that have saved an estimated 53 million lives since 2000, TB remains one of the most pressing public health crises around the world, the report found.
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The WHO has been gathering and analyzing data on TB since 1997 in hopes of understanding the trends in outbreaks of the deadly disease.
The highest rates of TB were reported in developing regions of southeast Asia and Africa, which reported over 70% of all cases.
This year’s report cited a significant lack of progress by countries attempting to make headway on battling the disease.
"The sheer numbers of deaths and suffering speak for themselves – we are not accelerating fast enough," said WHO’s Global TB Programme Director Dr. Mario Raviglione. "Prompt action towards universal health coverage and social protection, as well as breakthroughs in research and innovations – will be critical to enable access to patient-centered care of the highest standards for all, especially the poorest, most disadvantaged people everywhere."
Of particular significance was the need to address the combination of TB and HIV infection, mostly in Africa, and a growing number of patients infected with drug-resistant strains of TB in countries like China and India.
The Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was blunt in his condemnation of what he perceived as a lack of effort in stemming the spread of TB.
"While the world has committed to ending the TB epidemic by 2030, actions and investments don’t match the political rhetoric,” he wrote in a WHO press briefing. “We need a dynamic, global, multisectoral approach."
Last year’s report detailed many of the same trends. Dr. Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership told the Huffington Post in 2016 that she was fed up with hearing the same story year after year.
“This is like Groundhog Day ― it’s like a curse,” she said. “You go to bed, you wake up next year to the same numbers.”