Progress in tuberculosis control and the evolving public-health system in China

Lancet. 2007 Feb 24;369(9562):691-6. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60316-X.


China has the world's second largest tuberculosis epidemic, but progress in tuberculosis control was slow during the 1990s. Detection of tuberculosis had stagnated at around 30% of the estimated total of new cases, and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis was a major problem. These signs of inadequate tuberculosis control can be linked to a malfunctioning health system. The spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, brought to light substantial weaknesses in the country's public-health system. After the SARS epidemic was brought under control, the government increased its commitment and leadership to tackle public-health problems and, among other efforts, increased public-health funding, revised laws that concerned the control of infectious diseases, implemented the world's largest internet-based disease reporting system, and started a programme to rebuild local public-health facilities. These measures contributed to acceleration in efforts to control tuberculosis. By 2005, the detection of cases of tuberculosis had increased to 80% of the estimated total new cases, permitting China to achieve the 2005 global tuberculosis control targets. At the same time, specific efforts to improve tuberculosis control also contributed to strengthening of the public-health system. We examine how the strengthening of a disease control programme and the public-health system worked together to achieve a desired health outcome.

MeSH terms

  • China / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mandatory Reporting
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health / economics*
  • Public Health / trends
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / prevention & control