The UN Political Declaration has for a goal to treat 40 million people for TB disease in the 5-year period 2018-22, and 7 million have already been treated in 2018.
The WHO noted that more people received life-saving treatment for tuberculosis (TB) in 2018 than ever before, largely due to improved detection and diagnosis. Last year saw increase in people treated from 6.4 million in 2017 – enabling the world to meet one of the milestones towards the United Nations political declaration targets on TB.
WHO’s latest Global TB Report says that 2018 also saw a reduction in the number of TB deaths: 1.5 million people died from TB in 2018, down from 1.6 million in 2017. The number of new cases of TB has been declining steadily in recent years. However, the burden remains high among low-income and marginalized populations: around 10 million people developed TB in 2018.
“Today we mark the passing of the first milestone in the effort to reach people who’ve been missing out on services to prevent and treat TB,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“This is proof that we can reach global targets if we join forces together, as we have done through the Find.Treat.All.EndTB joint initiative of WHO, Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria”.
The UN declaration has two goals regarding the funding of the project; to mobilize at least US$13 billion annually for universal access to TB diagnosis, treatment and care by 2022, and to mobilize at least US$2 billion annually for TB research.
The fight against TB remains chronically underfunded. WHO estimates the shortfall for TB prevention and care in 2019 at US$3.3 billion. International funding (which is critical for many low- and middle-income countries) amounts to US$0.9 billion in 2019, with 73% coming through the Global Fund. Last week’s successful replenishment of the Global Fund will be critical to strengthen international financing.
The largest bilateral donor is the US government, which provides almost 50% of total international donor funding for TB when combined with funds channeled through and allocated by the Global Fund.
There is an urgent need for funding of TB research and development, with an annual shortfall of US$1.2 billion. Priority needs include a new vaccine or effective preventive drug treatment; rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests; and safer, simpler, shorter drug regimens to treat TB.