SEATTLE, Washington — One of the most common issues plaguing developing countries is a lack of proper medical care. As a result, millions of people around the world die of a treatable disease. Tuberculosis (TB) is among the top infectious diseases that cause death among impoverished countries. Here are some important facts about TB in developing countries.
10 Facts About TB In Developing Countries
TB is completely treatable and curable. Typically, treatment for someone diagnosed with TB requires taking a specific drug or combination of drugs for six to nine months. There are 10 drugs approved by the FDA in the United States for TB treatment. Some of the ‘core’ drugs include isoniazid (INH), rifampin (RIF), ethambutol (EMB) and pyrazinamide (PZA). Most patients diagnosed with TB who have access to these drugs will more than likely recover. However, untreated symptoms can be fatal, especially for TB in developing countries.
TB comes with a long list of symptoms. Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes TB by attacking the lungs. As a result, the symptoms often include coughing for several weeks (sometimes coughing up blood or mucus), a loss of appetite, fever and night sweats. TB is also a highly contagious disease that can be spread through the air. A person with TB can spread the infection through coughing, sneezing or simply talking.
It beats out HIV and AIDS. TB is among the top 10 causes of death in the world. When it comes to a single infectious agent, TB causes more deaths than HIV and AIDS. In fact, people with HIV are 19 times more likely to incur tuberculosis.
Adults are more likely to get TB. Although this illness can affect anyone of any age, adults are more susceptible to it. The use of alcohol and tobacco increases the chances of developing TB, which contributes to the number of adults diagnosed with the illness.
Over 95% of total cases are from TB in developing countries. It’s no surprise that developing countries are home to a number of infectious diseases due to a lack of proper medical care. Without access to proper diagnostics, millions of people can become infected without realizing it. Consequently, a majority of TB cases are in developing countries. Today, TB has infected about a fifth of the world’s total population.
Diagnosis and treatment saved approximately 58 million people from 2000-2018. As previously mentioned, TB is a treatable and curable disease. It is only fatal if left untreated. There are several organizations that have been working tirelessly to provide affordable health care and TB treatments to impoverished countries. Through these efforts and the advancement of medicine over the past two decades, millions of people have been able to treat their TB infection.
TB cases are increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As researches have been focusing their attention on both COVID-19 and TB during the last few months, they have concluded that an estimated 6.3 million will likely develop TB over the next five years. With the second wave of COVID-19 affecting many parts of the world, more lockdown orders are being put in place. Consequently, a large number of potential TB cases could go undiagnosed.
Ending the TB pandemic is the goal for 2030. The World Health Organization (WHO), following the guidelines of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), plans to eradicate the pandemic by the year 2030. The ultimate goal is to reach a 90% reduction rate in the number of deaths due to TB by the year 2030, and 95% by 2035. The strategy implemented to achieve this goal is based on three pillars. The first pillar focuses on creating access to affordable treatments that are more available in developing countries by improving early detection and treatments. The second pillar concentrates on ways to improve policies dealing with health and social sectors. Finally, the third pillar aims to increase research. According to the WHO, countries can achieve this goal if they can arrange their focus around these three pillars.
TB Alliance is working towards ending the pandemic. There are several groups working alongside the WHO in an effort to achieve their 2030 goal. The TB Alliance is a non-profit product development partnership that works to provide affordable treatments to those who need it most.
Anyone can help achieve the goal for 2030. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed progress for a number of organizations including the WHO. Although TB cases are expected to rise over the next five years, it is still possible to diminish the prevalence of TB cases. There are several organizations working tirelessly to achieve this goal, including the TB Alliance group, the Gates Foundation and Partners in Health. Anybody can be a part of the solution by donating to groups like these.
While this infection is curable and easily treatable, millions of people are still without proper health care access and as such cannot treat TB efficaciously. However, with the help of the organizations listed and individuals who share their support, the goal to end the decades-long pandemic of TB in developing countries can be achieved by 2030.
– Brittany Carter