Progress against the global tuberculosis epidemic may be slowing, a World Health Organization report suggests.
The report, released Monday, found that the rate of new cases fell by less than 1 percent between 2005 and 2006, far less than the targeted annual decrease of 5 to 7 percent, the Associated Press reported.
The WHO report, based on government data from 202 countries and regions, said there were an estimated 9.2 million new TB cases and 1.5 million TB deaths worldwide in 2006. Countries with the most TB cases were India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Nigeria. By region, Asia (55 percent) and Africa (31 percent) had the majority of TB cases.
The WHO said TB infection rates decreased about 3 percent in the United States and were stable in Europe, the AP reported.
Outdated drugs, obsolete diagnostic tests, overburdened health systems, and a lack of vaccines are among the factors contributing to the slowdown in the fight against TB, Dr. Marcos Espinal, executive secretary of the WHO's Stop TB Partnership, told the AP.
Some health experts say the WHO's TB policy is too passive and the organization needs a more proactive strategy to combat the disease.