Director-General

World TB Day Event

Launch of the Global TB Report

London, United Kingdom
23 March 2005

Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen,

Tomorrow is World TB Day, and we welcome this opportunity to review progress on TB control with you today.

Health workers and the international community have proved in most parts of the world that TB can be controlled. Prevalence has declined by 20% since 1990, and 17 million people were treated under DOTS between 1995 and 2003. Incidence rates are falling or stable in five of WHO's six regions of the world.

With the scale-up of activities in China and India, which bear 35% of the global burden of TB, the global total of people receiving treatment under DOTS was 3.7 million in 2003, up from 3 million the previous year. This also reflects rapid increase in coverage in other countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

As a result we are closer than ever to the 2005 targets. Today we can announce that the latest data show we are just three percentage points short of our 85% target for treatment success. And towards our target of 70% for DOTS case detection, the rate has risen to 45%.

A large part of the success of Member States so far has come from a powerful combination of local investment with bilateral and multilateral support. The UK Department of International Development is a strong and highly valued partner in this effort.

However, as the Report of the Commission for Africa has emphasized, we face an enormous challenge, most especially in Africa. Of the 1.7 million TB deaths a year, a third occur in Africa. Because of the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and the weakness of health services, rates of TB infection have tripled in some African countries since 1990. They are still rising by 3–4% annually.

We can rightly talk of success in other parts of the world, but in Africa we have to face the fact that we have much further to go. A massive increase in combined TB and HIV control activities is needed across Africa. This can only be achieved by building up national and local health systems to provide the necessary treatment and prevention services.

The goal of stopping and reversing TB is achievable. The methods, procedures and supplies needed are well known. They are getting impressive results wherever they are being used. The challenge now is to invest enough so that they can be used in Africa.

Thank you.

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