Economic crisis boosts TB risk - Dr. Heidi Larson.
Worldwide, 2-3 million people die annually from tuberculosis (TB). Unless concerted efforts are taken in Asia, the TB epidemic will continue to worsen, jeopardizing global control efforts. At a 4-day conference in Bangkok of more than 1500 lung disease experts, Dr. Heidi Larson, a senior World Health Organization official, noted that the economic crisis in southeast Asia has increased the risks of TB spreading throughout the region. The danger of a major resurgence of TB has been made worse by drug resistance developed as a result of haphazard treatment of the condition in poor countries. Malnutrition and generally worsening health problems caused by the economic crisis have increased the likelihood of people developing active TB because they have weakened immune systems. Interruptions of drug supplies also broaden the scope for the development of drug-resistant TB. The World Health Organization has identified China, India, and Indonesia as the countries which have experienced the most dramatic increases in cases of active TB. TB can be cured on a large scale, but both national and international political commitment are needed.