Tuberculosis or TB now rivals HIV/Aids as one of leading diseases that have led to death.
1.1 million people around the world died of TB in 2014, 1.2 million died of HIV/Aids, and 400,000 people suffered from both the diseases according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). And most recently, Minister Tan Chuan Jin suffered at the hands of a form of TB and made a full recovery from it.
It isn’t so much that TB has picked up and evolved as an infectious disease but that in recent years, medicine has managed to catch up and help people suffering from HIV/Aids to survive. However there still isn’t much funding going into research for both TB and HIV/Aids, as it clearly shows in the death toll.
TB is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. Mr Tan Chuan Jin suffered from a rare form of TB affecting 5% of TB patients. This rare form of TB however wasn’t infectious, and Mr Tan made a full recovery after he recognised the symptoms early.
But given that TB can be treated if spotted early, the death rate is worryingly high according to the Director of WHO. WHO found that 6 million new cases of TB were reported in 2014, fewer than two-thirds of the 9.6 million people worldwide estimated to have fallen sick with TB last year.
Among the estimated 480,000 cases of multi-drug resistant TB in 2014 – a superbug form of the disease that resists the two most potent anti-TB drugs -, only one in four was diagnosed.
The WHO has stated that is time that funding goes into fighting TB, and curbing more global deaths.