Tuberculosis (TB), which claims 1.6 million lives each year, is set to overtake COVID-19 once again as the leading cause of death by infectious disease globally.

Drug resistance was already on the rise and treatment coverage lagging when the COVID-19 pandemic threw efforts even further off track. More people fell ill with TB and fewer accessed lifesaving care, reversing nearly a decade of progress. Children are at the heart of this crisis, facing the lowest rates of detection and some of the highest rates of death from TB.

Each year, more than 10 million people fall ill with TB, yet just over half are diagnosed, leaving more than 4 million people untreated and at risk of spreading the disease to others. It is estimated that only one in three children with TB gets diagnosed and nearly all those who die were never treated. Drug-resistant TB (DR-TB), a leading cause of death from antimicrobial resistance, is on the rise, making the disease more costly and difficult to treat.

Close to half a million people have DR-TB but only one-third access treatment. New tests, medicines, and preventive therapies can turn the tide on TB, but their impact will be limited if we do not urgently address access barriers such as affordability, availability and accessibility.

At the United Nations’ High-Level Meeting on TB in September 2023, world leaders committed to ambitious new targets to end TB. As the largest multilateral funder of TB research and development globally, we remain committed to this fight. We will continue to drive innovation and ensure lifesaving tests, treatments and tools reach the countries and communities at the heart of the crisis.

Read more about how Unitaid is working with partners and countries to advance the TB response in our new Issue Brief.

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