India recorded largest number of TB cases in 2014

India recorded the largest number of Tuberculosis cases in the world last year, according to a report by the WHO that said 1.5 million people died in 2014 from the disease which ranks alongside HIV as a leading killer worldwide.

World Health Organisation’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2015, released on Wednesday, said that of the 9.6 million new TB cases in 2014, 58% were in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions. India, Indonesia and China had the largest number of cases at 23%, 10% and 10% respectively of the global total in 2014. Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa also had high numbers of TB cases last year.

Nearly 1.5 million people died from the disease last year, including 140,000 children, according to the report. “Most of these deaths could have been prevented. The disease ranks alongside HIV as a leading killer worldwide,” it said.

Approximately 90% of total TB deaths (among HIV- negative and HIV-positive people) and 80 % of TB deaths among HIV-negative people occurred in the African and South-East Asia Regions in 2014.

India and Nigeria accounted for about one-third of global TB deaths (both including and excluding those among HIV-positive people), the report added. The report noted that globally, TB prevalence in 2015 was 42 % lower than in 1990.

The target of halving the rate compared with 1990 was achieved in three WHO regions the Region of the Americas, the South-East Asia Region and the Western Pacific Region and in nine high-burden countries of Brazil, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, Uganda and Vietnam.

In 2014, there was a marked increase in global TB notifications for the first time since 2007. The annual total of new TB cases, which had been about 5.7 million until 2013, rose to slightly more than 6 million in 2014, mostly due to a 29 % increase in notifications in India, which followed the introduction of a policy of mandatory notification in May 2012, creation of a national web-based reporting system in June 2012 and intensified efforts to engage the private health sector.

The report said that intensified efforts, such as those already being made in India, are needed to ensure that all cases are detected, notified to national surveillance systems, and treated according to international standards.

It said that in order to reduce TB’s overall burden, detection and treatment gaps need to be closed, funding shortfalls filled and new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines developed. Effective diagnosis and treatment saved 43 million lives between 2000 and 2015, according to the report, the 20th in a series of annual evaluations produced by WHO.