8 December 2009 | Washington DC -- Some 36 million people have been cured of tuberculosis (TB) over the past 15 years through the WHO DOTS/ the Stop TB Strategy. New data, released today by WHO, also indicate that up to 8 million TB deaths have also been averted through this approach, confirming it as the most cost-effective approach in the fight against tuberculosis.
Since the launch of DOTS, the number of people being cured has increased regularly. Data from the latest 12 month period now show that the highest ever number of infectious patients - 2.3 million people - were cured. With 87% of treated patients being cured, the 85% global target was exceeded for the first time since it was established in 1991. Furthermore, a total of 53 countries surpassed this treatment milestone.
The WHO update shows continued progress on addressing the lethal combination of TB and HIV. Between 2007 and 2008, 1.4 million TB patients were tested for HIV, an increase of 200 000. Of those who tested HIV positive, one-third benefited from life-saving HIV anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and two-thirds were enrolled on co-trimoxazole prophylaxis to prevent the risk of fatal bacterial infections. In addition, screening for tuberculosis and access to isoniazid preventive therapy for TB among people living with HIV more than doubled, although the total number is still far short of what it should be.
Although more and more patients are being cured, there are millions who are being let down because they are unable to access high-quality care. TB remains second only to HIV/AIDS in terms of the number of people it kills. In 2008, 1.8 million people died from TB including half a million deaths associated with HIV - many of them because they were not enrolled on ART.