Tuberculosis May Finally Be History Thanks To Global Efforts

The death rate is dropping as world leaders band together.

Photo by Senior Airman Areca Wilson, U.S. Air Force/DVIDS.


The global effort to wipe out tuberculosis is making huge gains in recent years.

Tuberculosis may sound like a disease of the past, but for the lingering places in the world with no defense against it, TB still presents a major health concern. To do away with scourge for good, 75 global leaders gathered in Moscow this past November for the inaugural World Health Organization Global Ministerial Conference on Ending Tuberculosis in the Sustainable Development Era: A Multisectoral Response. With 114 countries represented, the conference was “a long overdue global commitment to stop the death and suffering caused by this ancient killer,” said WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Although TB still stands as one of the most deadly infectious diseases in the world, vast improvements have been made in prevention methods, leading global health organizers to believe an end is in sight. Since 2000, 53 million lives have been saved as a result of the worldwide effort to fight TB, WHO reports. Thanks to vaccinations, awareness, and evolving prevention methods, the TB death rate has dropped by 37% overall.

To continue improving on these numbers, the conference attendees devised four key actions to guide future global efforts against the disease. Among these objectives, representatives agreed to work together to attain universal health coverage that includes TB-related prevention and care, increase fundraising efforts, support research, and build accountability methods that track and review the organization’s goals.

Beyond the funding and scientific hurdles facing the elimination of TB, this will be a community-oriented operation of truly global proportions. But if the hopeful numbers above suggest anything, it’s that improvement is definitely within reach.