News / Health

China Cuts Number of TB Cases in Half

Jessica Berman
Over the past 20 years, China has slashed its tuberculosis rate by more than 50 percent by broadly applying the World Health Organization's strategy for TB elimination.  Experts say the outcome is proof tuberculosis can be vanquished through an aggressive treatment program.

China is a major contributor to the world's tuberculosis pandemic, with an estimated one million new cases every year.  Experts say its infection rate accounts for eleven percent of the global burden.

But by extending an aggressive TB elimination strategy from half the country in the 1990s to the entire population, China has dramatically cut the number of existing TB cases. In less than 15 years, they dropped from 170 to 59 people per hundred thousand.  That's a 57 percent reduction in TB prevalence between 2000 and 2010.

The figure puts China significantly ahead of the WHO's global tuberculosis reduction target of 50 percent by 2015.

Giovanni Battista Migliori, director of the WHO Collaborative Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases in Italy, is not surprised at China's success in reducing its TB prevalence.

"When a decision is taken [made] in China, it is more likely to be really applied than in Western countries, for example," he said. "So a policy is really applied when the government sends an order to do this."

Migliori also says TB is easier to control in China than in other countries because there is relatively little outside migration.

A nationwide expansion of the Directly Observed Therapy Strategy, or DOTS, program in China is credited for the dramatic reduction in the rate of TB.

Treatment for tuberculosis requires patients to take a number of drugs daily for six to nine months.  Adherence to the regimen is difficult, and often uneven.

But with DOTS, health care workers visit patients in their homes every day, making sure they swallow each dose of the prescribed pills.

Migliori says China's commitment to eliminate TB can serve as a model for other countries with high prevalence rates.  

The disease is often seen as a co-infection in HIV-positive patients.  But even in countries battling a high incidence of AIDS, Migliori believes TB can be dramatically reduced with the proper commitment.

"The possibility to intervene with the antiretrovirals early is important and might allow [TB prevalence] to go in the same direction," he said.

An article on the reduction in China's tuberculosis rate is published in the journal Lancet, along with a commentary by Migliori.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid