SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

U.N.: Major funding boost needed to fight TB

The United Nations' World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said on Monday that an additional $1.6 billion per year was needed to fight against tuberculosis.

The two organizations said the added funding, which would lift the overall total to $4.8 billion, is needed to fight back against drug-resistant strains of the disease. Multi-drug-resistant TB, also known as MDR-TB, has infected approximately 630,000 worldwide with a more expensive and deadly version of the bacterial disease, AAP reports.

"We are treading water at a time when we desperately need to scale up our response," Margaret Chan, the head of the World Health Organization, said, according to AAP. "We have gained a lot of ground in TB control through international collaboration, but it can easily be lost if we do not act now."

Chan and Mark Dybul, the head of the Global Fund, said that increasing funding was the only way to identify all new cases of TB while making progress against existing cases.

"It is critical that we raise the funding that is urgently needed to control this disease," Dybul said, according to AAP. "If we don't act now, our costs could skyrocket. It is invest now or pay forever."

TB infects approximately 8.7 million people worldwide annually and kills 1.4 million. MDR-TB emerged in several countries due to poor quality treatment of the standard strain and spread to approximately 80 countries.

Approximately 60 percent of MDR-TB cases occur in South Africa, Russia, China and Brazil, AAP reports.