August 30, 2005

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa has declared tuberculosis to be at emergency levels in the region. In the past 15 years, there has been a quadrupling in annual cases of the disease, with over 500,000 fatalities per year.

The committee is calling for "urgent and extraordinary" actions to be taken by governments in the region. This includes channelling more financial and human resources into Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS) programmes, which reportedly have a 95% success rate in curing the disease. The global Stop TB Partnership claims that Africa needs US$2.2bn in new funding to control the disease in 2006–2007.

Globally, TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as a cause of illness and death among adults. Africa currently has 2.4mn cases of the disease, due to poverty and weak local health systems. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region is also a factor as TB is often associated with the disease.