WHO Update on Tuberculosis (March 9th 2015)

March 24th is celebrated as World Tuberculosis Day each year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently (9/3/2015) updated its factsheet on tuberculosis.

Key messages:

1. Tuberculosis (TB) is second only to HIV/AIDS in terms of people killed by a single infectious agent.

2. In 2013, 9 million people fell ill with TB and 1.5 million died from the disease.

3. Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

4. TB is among the top 5 causes of death for women aged 15 to 44.

5. In 2013, an estimated 550 000 children became ill with TB and 80 000 HIV-negative children died of TB.

6. TB causes one fourth of all HIV-related deaths.

7. Globally in 2013, an estimated 480 000 people developed multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

8. The TB death rate dropped 45% between 1990 and 2013.

9. An estimated 37 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2013.

10. About 1/3rd of the world’s population has latent TB ( people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease).

11. More than 20% of TB cases worldwide are attributable to smoking.

12. People living with HIV are 26 to 31 times more likely to develop active TB disease than people without HIV.

13. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to, at least, isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful, first-line (or standard) anti-TB drugs.

The primary cause of MDR-TB is inappropriate treatment.

14. About 480 000 people developed MDR-TB in the world in 2013. More than half of these cases were in India, China and the Russian Federation.

Useful links:

Link to the updated factsheet on TB:


Link to the Global TB Report 2014:


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