Tuberculosis

In the entire history of humankind, it is believed that tuberculosis has killed more people than any other disease (in shorter periods of time, the epidemics of the Black Death and AIDS have killed more). Tuberculosis dates back to at least 4000 BC and was present in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and India. Known as consumption, it was responsible for one in five deaths in 17th century London.

Tuberculosis is highly contagious and spreads through the air from coughing. If not treated, a person with TB infects an average of 10 to 15 new people each year. Approximately a million people die annually from tuberculosis in developing countries.

In 1995 the World Health Organization launched a multi-pronged tuberculosis program called DOTS (Directly Observed Therapy). Since then it has successfully treated many millions of tuberculosis patients. Funding is needed so that this effective program can expand to reach all the people who need it.

Sources: World Health Organization (WHO), Stop TB Partnership.

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