Simphiwe takes his TB treatment. Photo:Sydelle WIllow Smith, MSF

Simphiwe takes his TB treatment. Photo:Sydelle WIllow Smith, MSF

Tuberculosis (TB) is now the leading infectious killer worldwide, surpassing HIV/AIDS and maleria. Nearly 2 million people die from the disease every year. TB primarily affects vulnerable populations,  such as those living with HIV/AIDS and those with poor access to health care. Treatment is relatively simple and affordable, however, the emergence of drug resistant strains of the disease poses an increasing threat. Our mission is to get these treatments into the hands of those who desperately need them.

Drug resistant forms have appeared in nearly every country in the world – including the U.S. Drug resistant TB is extremely expensive and difficult to treat, and there are no guarantees that treatment will always succeed. Over half a million people each year are diagnosed with resistant tuberculosis. Over 250,000 people died from drug resistant tuberculosis in 2015.

Although significant progress has been made throughout the last decades, TB remains by far the most under-funded of U.S. infectious disease programs relative to its disease burden. Thankfully, most deaths from TB could be prevented with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Indeed, the vast majority of TB cases are curable with a series of four drugs. Patients can take these four pills a day for six months to prevent premature death, and the total drug cost is only about $20. Figuring in all other expenditures, an additional $150 million for basic TB treatment would save over 180,000 lives. We think that’s worth it.

Inadequate funding will compromise the progress made by TB programs and increase the likelihood of drug resistant TB spreading around the world and within our own borders. To protect against this threat, the U.S. must take the lead and continue investing in the tools needed to control TB – new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines, as well as global programs that ensure access to testing and treatment. Our mission is to get these treatments into the hands of those who desperately need them


Deaths per year 2010-2016

2010 levels = 100 / Source: Disease Annual Reports, WHO

TB Facts

  • 1.7 million people died from TB in 2016
  • 10.4 million people contract TB  every year, 4 million of which receive no modern treatment
  • Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middleincome countries
  • Seven countries account for 64% of the total TB cases (India, Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, and South Africa)
  • In 2016, an estimated 1 million children became ill with TB and 250,000 children died of TB
  • An estimated 53 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2016

Global TB Incidence, 2016

Source: Global Tuberculosis Control 2017, WHO, Geneva, 2017