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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
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.


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