The newly released global tuberculosis (TB) report from World Health Organisation (WHO) is reporting the grim reality that more people are dying of TB than previously thought.
According to the report, there was a 50 percent increase in deaths of children from TB, with 210,000 reported to have died of the disease in 2015. This increase, from 140,000 in 2014, reflects the result of improved disease estimates, shedding new light on a disease whose impact on children had been underestimated and ignored. The higher child mortality numbers come after improved data collection doubled the estimated incidence of childhood TB, to one million annually in 2014.
In the past, children with TB had been the neglected of the neglected. However, improved TB medicines for children are now available. With country-level estimates of childhood TB available for the first time, countries should be even better prepared to act and rapidly accelerate the introduction of and ensure access to child-friendly TB medicines, and that no child dies of TB.
The report also notes that, in 2015, the number of people who died from TB grew to 1.8 million, from 1.5 million in 2014. Worryingly, 50 percent of all multi-drug resistant TB patients are either not completing or not being helped by the current two-year treatment regimen. These sobering statistics remind us of our urgency to continue the fight to develop the better, faster and affordable treatments that will finally bring this pandemic under control.
TB Alliance is working to advance several promising regimens to tackle TB in all its forms. However, there is a commensurate need for funding. Only in providing the funding needed can we hope to transform the promise in the pipeline to millions of lives saved.
TB Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to finding faster-acting and affordable drug regimens to fight TB.