LONDON, 13 October 2016:  New figures released by the WHO in the Global Tuberculosis Report 2016 show that TB, the world’s deadliest infectious disease, just got deadlier: more cases, more deaths, and more drug-resistance. According to the report, released today, there were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases worldwide and 1.8 million deaths in 2015. This is a 20% revision upwards from last year’s figures.

RESULTS’s Executive Director Aaron Oxley said:  “this is now the third year in a row that the total number of TB cases and deaths have been revised upwards – it is time for the world to wake up to the magnitude of this growing pandemic”.

“We have plans in place to decrease TB rates, but these are only as good as the resources and energy we put into implementing them. Right now we are falling short”.

“Progress towards decreasing rates of HIV and malaria has shown us what increased investment and high-level political will can achieve. Today’s figures show that with TB, we are clearly not doing enough”.

One concrete way of generating that political will was put forward by the Stop TB Partnership, who are calling for a Heads of State High Level Meeting on TB to be held at the UN General Assembly in New York in September. RESULTS endorses this call.

Alarmingly, the report also highlighted that drug-resistant TB continues to represent a global threat. Almost 580,000 people were estimated to have drug-resistant TB in 2015, up from less than half a million in 2014.  

Earlier this year, The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, led by Lord O’Neill, a UK Treasury Minister and former Goldman Sachs Chief Economist described TB as the cornerstone of the global AMR response. The Review estimated that TB has the potential to cause a quarter of all deaths from drug resistant infections by 2050, with one person dying from the disease every 12 seconds. This comes with catastrophic economic costs of more than $16.7 trillion in the next 35 years the equivalent to the annual economic output of the EU.

Aaron Oxley said: “If increasing drug-resistance continues on its current trajectory we could return to an era where treating simple infections becomes practically impossible. Global failure to respond to drug-resistant TB threatens to undercut the new global agenda to address AMR. We can, and must, prevent this. “