|Abstract||The global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic has levelled off for the first time since WHO declared TB a public health emergency in 1993. The Global Tuberculosis Control Report released today by WHO finds that the percentage of the world's population struck by TB peaked in 2004 and then held steady in 2005.|
Although the rate at which people developed TB in 2005 was level or even declined slightly compared to 2004, the actual number of TB cases continued to rise slowly. The reason for this difference is that world population is expanding. The pace at which new TB cases developed in 2005, however, was slightly lower than global population growth. The number of cases in 2005 was 8 787 000, up from 8 718 000 in 2004. An estimated 1.6 million people died of the disease in 2005, 195 000 of them people living with HIV.
Despite signs that the epidemic may be slowing, there are major impediments to rapid progress against TB - prominent among them being uneven access to diagnosis and treatment within countries. "We need to tackle this problem as part of the larger challenge of increasing access to primary health care services. All people, no matter who they are or where they live, should have access to TB diagnosis and treatment as part of a package of general health services that bring multiple health benefits," said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.