Easy to catch but hard to diagnose, TB is almost as deadly today as it was 150 years ago. Better, cheaper drugs are a priority
Tuberculosis has killed more people than any other disease in history. Last year, 1.5 million people died from TB and 10 million more acquired it. A shocking one-quarter of the world’s population is infected. That’s not much better than 1993, when one-third of the world was infected and the World Health Organization declared TB a global emergency. We are losing the battle.
Earlier this month, experts gathered in Hyderabad for the 50th Union World Conference on fighting the disease. When the first such gathering was held in 1867, TB was the leading cause of death in industrialised nations. Today, it still ranks in the top 10 worldwide. Why, despite all the progress in medicine and public health over the past 150 years, is TB still the most common and lethal of all infectious diseases?