Tuberculosis most deadly of neglected diseases

Greater than nine out of ten cases of tuberculosis could be avoided by 2050 through better testing, medicine and vaccines, according to a recently published review in the medical journal The Lancet.

It is estimated that tuberculosis kills approximately 1.8 million people each year.

Six million lives were saved by tuberculosis treatments between 1995 and 2008 and approximately 36 million people infected with TB during the same time were cured. According to the study’s authors, however, the disease remains a “deadly scourge” that does not attract the same health funding as other diseases that claim the same or fewer lives.

“Tuberculosis is unfashionable these days,” Lesotho Health Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng said at a press conference when the report was released before the World Health Organization recently in Geneva.

One of the main problems with tuberculosis, the study reports, is misdiagnosis. Detection rates have gotten better over the last 15 years, but the report concluded that nearly 40 percent of active infections in the 22 nations where tuberculosis is present go untreated.

The report also warned of the threat of multi-drug resistant forms of tuberculosis. If diagnosed early enough, most forms of tuberculosis can be treated easily and cheaply. "When patients fail to complete a treatment, the Mycobacterium tuberculosis germ that causes the disease develops a resistance to frontline drugs such as isoniazid and rifampicin," the study warns

“Tuberculosis can no longer be the neglected sister of HIV and malaria,” concluded the authors, Yahoo Health News reports.