The information here is provided by courtesy of the Network's short online course - "An Introduction to Global Health". 


Global Distribution


Tuberculosis (TB) is the world’s top infectious killer. Every year 10 million people fall ill with it and 1.5 million die from it.

Most of the people who fall ill with it live in low- and middle-income countries. Around half are in 8 countries – Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines and South Africa. (Map 1)


Map 1





Cause and susceptibility


It is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Spread is most commonly airborne from someone with TB of the lung - pulmonary TB.


People with reduced immunity e.g. from malnutrition, diabetes or are smokers are more likely to become ill with it.


People suffering from HIV are 20 – 30 times more likely to develop active TB than the general population. It is the leading cause of death of people with HIV.


Prevention and Treatment


TB is preventable and curable. Through co-ordinated programmes, death rates from TB have been falling across the world, though it is a slow decline (Figure 1).


Figure 1





Drug Resistance 


A challenge for treatment is that the bacterium causing TB has become resistant to some of the drugs that were previously used. Patients now need a combination of drugs and to complete the course in order to avoid developing drug resistance.


Further reading 


WHO : Tuberculosis Overview


WHO : Tuberculosis fact sheet


WHO : Antimicrobial Resistance


WHO : The End TB Strategy


Tuberculosis image