The WHO's Global Tuberculosis Report 2013 was released this week, highlighting the success in the policies to control tuberculosis, stating that the lives of 22 million people have been saved, while the number of patients being treated with the disease has fallen to 8.6 million, while deaths related to tuberculosis have decreased to 1.3 million.
This means that the 2015 Millennium Development Goal, to halve the number of deaths related to TB in relation to 1990, should be reached.
However, there are two major challenges underlined in this year's report, namely that of the missing cases - around three million people with TB not being picked up by healthcare systems and drug-resistant TB cases, given that the response to treat patients with MDR-TB (Multi-drug resistant TB) is inadequate.
Last year, according to the report, 450,000 people became ill with MDR-TB. Twenty-seven countries house the great majority of these cases, spear-headed by the PR China and India. In the same year, 94,000 new cases were discovered with rapid testing schemes but it is estimated that three out of four MDR-TB cases remain undetected. Cuts in funding mean that reduced numbers of healthcare officials are unable to meet the needs - in 2012, 16,000 MDR-TB cases were given no treatment and the lack of service capacity in many countries is translated into falling TB cure rates.
Furthermore, less than 60 per cent of patients living with TB and HIV were receiving antiretroviral drugs.
The reason behind these challenges, according to the World Health Organization, is mainly one - cash. The report claims that in both cases, lack of funds available to already stretched healthcare systems render them incapable of finding and treating patients outside the formal state healthcare system, often patients in "hard-to-reach" places. 75 per cent of the three million missed cases reside in 12 countries.
Mario Raviglione, Director of the Global TB Programme for the WHO, states: "Quality TB care for millions worldwide has driven down TB deaths but far too many people are still missing out on such care and are suffering as a result. They are not diagnosed, or not treated, or information on the quality of care they receive is unknown."
Recommendations: The WHO's Five priority actions
The WHO report recommends five priority actions that could make a rapid difference between now and 2015.
Both Russia and Ukraine have been increasing their military presence on the border between the two countries lately. Russia warned Ukraine against any military scenarios