Did you know that in 1900, tuberculosis (TB) was a leading cause of death in the United States, second only to pneumonia/influenza? There were 38, 820 TB related deaths reported that year. Since then, the deaths attributed to tuberculosis have steadily decreased to where in 2013, there were 555 TB related deaths.  In the U.S. there has been a marked decrease in the number of reported cases, from 84,304 cases when the disease first became reportable in 1953, to 9,421 cases in 2014.

Does this mean that TB is no longer a global health concern? Unfortunately, no. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were an estimated 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis worldwide in 2015. In that same year, reportedly 1.8 million people died of TB.

To focus world attention that tuberculosis, although preventable and curable, remains a very timely and urgent global health issue, WHO has recently published the following 10 Facts About Tuberculosis:

  1 –In 2015, six countries accounted for 60% of the 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis.  India was first, followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.

 2 – Tuberculosis was one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide (1.8 million people) in 2015, ranking above HIV and malaria.

 3 – In 2015, 1 million children fell ill with TB, and 210,000 children (including 40,000 with HIV) died due to TB. Childhood TB is often overlooked by healthcare providers as it can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

 4 – Tuberculosis is the leading killer of people living with HIV. Worldwide, about 35% of deaths among people with HIV is due to TB.

 5 – On a positive note, globally, the number of people falling ill with TB is declining. Since 2010, the fastest rate of decline in the mortality rate has been in the Eastern Mediterranean and European regions, the slowest in the African region.

 6 – TB occurs in every part of the world, but the majority of cases are in Asia and Africa.

 7 – An estimated 480,000 people developed multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in 2015. Some of these people acquired an even more serious form of the illness, extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), which is a form of tuberculosis that responds to even fewer available drugs.

 8 – It is estimated that TB treatment saved 49 million lives globally between 2000 and 2015.However, diagnostic and treatment gaps still persist.

 9 – Of the estimated 10.4 million new cases, only 6.1 million were detected and notified in 2015. This led to a gap of 4.3 million cases, undetected and untreated.

 10 – In low and middle income countries, investment for tuberculosis prevention and care fell almost $2 billion short of the $8.3 billion needed in 2016. This gap will be widened by 2020 if current levels of funding are not increased.