The World Health Organization delivered some good news on the tuberculosis pandemic when it released figures showing a decline in the number of cases and deaths.
The WHO attributed the drop to advances made in China, Russia, South America, and Africa.
“The findings reflect a significant milestone for global health,” said Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the agency’s "Stop TB" Department. “But history teaches that we cannot be complacent about TB. The international community, therefore, must not perceive these achievements as job done.”
Of the 8.8 million people who became sick with TB in 2010, 1.4 million died, the 2011 Global Tuberculosis Control Report said. The number of cases of the disease peaked in 2005, when a reported 9 million people got it. Deaths peaked in 2003, with 1.8 million.
Countries with the most noticeable improvements in prevention and care were Kenya, Tanzania, Brazil, and China, according to the report.
A routine vaccination against TB doesn’t always work. Once TB is contracted, it’s treatable but takes months to overcome.
The WHO predicts more than 2 million people will contract TB by 2015.
“We know from the past experience that as soon as you drop the guard, TB comes back,” USAID’s Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez said.
TB is the world's fourth-leading cause of infectious disease death. The number one killer is upper respiratory infections such as pneumonia and flu, followed by AIDS and diarrhea.