Rapid expansion of the standardised approach to tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment that is recommended by WHO allowed more than 36 million people to be cured between 1995 and 2008, averting up to 6 million deaths. Yet tuberculosis remains a severe global public health threat. There are more than 9 million new cases every year worldwide, and the incidence rate is falling at less than 1% per year. Although the overall target related to the Millennium Development Goals of halting and beginning to reverse the epidemic might have already been reached in 2004, the more important long-term elimination target set for 2050 will not be met with present strategies and instruments. Several key challenges persist. Many vulnerable people do not have access to affordable services of sufficient quality. Technologies for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention are old and inadequate. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is a serious threat in many settings. HIV/AIDS continues to fuel the tuberculosis epidemic, especially in Africa. Furthermore, other risk factors and underlying social determinants help to maintain tuberculosis in the community. Acceleration of the decline towards elimination of this disease will need invigorated actions in four broad areas: continued scale-up of early diagnosis and proper treatment for all forms of tuberculosis in line with the Stop TB Strategy; development and enforcement of bold health-system policies; establishment of links with the broader development agenda; and promotion and intensification of research towards innovations.
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