The World Health Organization says about nine million people around the world have TB and 1.6 million die from it every year. The greatest burden is in South and East Asia, followed closely by Africa and the Western Pacific regions, all adding up to 85 percent of the world total.
To the director of the WHO's Stop-TB Program, Mario Raviglione, the deaths are needless, because a six month course of drugs that have been around for decades can cure most cases of TB. "It is a scandal that in 2007, with the means we have, we could potentially cure all drug-susceptible cases of TB, [but] we still see 45-hundred deaths every day. So the world must wake up," says Raviglione.
But TB persists and mutates into drug-resistant strains harder to cure because many patients fail to finish taking their medicine.
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