Reflections on the white plague

Lancet Infect Dis. 2009 Mar;9(3):197-202. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(09)70045-3.


Tuberculosis continues to be one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality from infectious disease worldwide. When WHO declared tuberculosis a global emergency in 1993, the initial response from the international community was sluggish and inadequate. A resurgence of the disease, the emergence of multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant strains, and the detrimental effect of the concurrent tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS epidemics on national control programmes in sub-Saharan Africa have all occurred despite the availability of effective combination treatment regimens. On the positive side, funding agencies and donor governments are at long last taking a serious interest in investing in tuberculosis research priorities defined by the Stop TB Partnership. Although this investment introduces optimism for eventual control of the White Plague, past failures remind us not to be complacent.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Forecasting
  • Global Health
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary* / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary* / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary* / history


  • Antitubercular Agents