Efforts to restrain the spread of tuberculosis have proven to be ineffective as there is more TB now than at any other time in history, experts assert. To tackle the disease, new strategies are needed, according to British medical journal Lancet.
In 2009, there have been 2 million deaths because of TB and more than 9 million new infections, according to the medical journal.
TB is not just a medical problem, experts say, stressing that the disease is linked with poverty as its spread is extensive in places with poor living conditions.
Treatment-related actions alone will therefore be insufficient to curb TB worldwide, according to a special tuberculosis edition of Lancet. Ministries responsible for finance, housing, social development, and education, aside from health, should also take part in combating TB, the journal suggests.
Some experts, The Associated Press reports, have raised concern whether programs of the United Nations are effective in curbing TB. The strategy of the World Health Organization in particular has largely focused on treatment, AP added.
“The main priority for TB control is improved living conditions and economic growth, which is outside the control of the U.N.,” said Philip Stevens, a health policy expert at London-based think tank International Policy Network, as quoted by AP. “TB cannot be tackled in isolation.”
But not all is bleak in the fight against TB. Mortality from tuberculosis is declining, according to Lancet. Furthermore, Mario Raviglione, head of WHO’s TB department, said the recent deceleration in curbing TB was “very minor,” AP reports. The U.N. agency boasts that its basic TB programs treated more than 36 million people between 1995 and 2008, and saved some 6 million lives from the disease.
“But we do need to rethink control,” Pamela Das, executive editor at Lancet, and Richard Horton, editor of the journal, write in an accompanying commentary of the journal’s TB edition.
They are pushing for accelerated scale-up of tuberculosis interventions, faster case detection, and greater attention to upstream prevention by strengthening health systems, nutrition and the screening of vulnerable populations.