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October 17, 2012

Program to Eradicate Tuberculosis On Track, WHO Says

by VOA News

The World Health Organization says it is on track to reach its goal of reducing tuberculosis (TB) deaths by 50 percent from the 1990 rate, but global progress has been uneven.

In its annual assessment of TB, the WHO says new cases of the disease fell at a rate of more than two percent from 2010 to 2011.

However, WHO TB department director Mario Raviglione says millions of people are still affected by the disease.

"The global burden of TB remains enormous with an estimated, in the latest estimate of this report, 8.7 million new cases of which 13 percent, or over a million, are co-infected with HIV," Raviglione said.

At a Wednesday news conference, Raviglione said 40 percent of TB cases are in India and China while the African region has about 24 percent of the world's cases.

He said an estimated $8 billion a year will be needed to fight TB globally between 2013 and 2015 but there are "critical gaps" in funding.

"We know that there is a gap of some $3 billion U.S. dollars already in 2013 out of the $8 billion needed," Raviglione said.

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria, which usually attack the lungs but can attack any part of the body.  It is spread through the air from person to person.