The resurgence of disease: social and historical perspectives on the 'new' tuberculosis

Soc Sci Med. 2002 Aug;55(3):385-96; discussion 397-401. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(01)00176-9.


The resurgence of tuberculosis is one of the most serious global public health challenges of the twenty-first century. This paper argues that the decline of tuberculosis since the nineteenth century is far better understood than its resurgence over the last twenty years. It is suggested that insights gained from the historical study of disease may provide a better analytical framework for understanding the contemporary dynamics of disease epidemiology than the current emphasis on the bio-medical and behavioural characteristics of individual patients. It is concluded that tuberculosis research requires a combination of advances in bio-medical knowledge with a broader understanding of the evolving relationship between disease and modern societies.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology
  • Antibiotics, Antitubercular / pharmacology
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Cost of Illness
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Poverty
  • Public Health*
  • Rifampin / pharmacology
  • Social Justice
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / epidemiology


  • Antibiotics, Antitubercular
  • Rifampin