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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 15:49 GMT
WHO warns of TB catastrophe
TB bacteria
There is an increasing link between TB and poverty
test hello test

By Ania Lichtarowicz
BBC Science reporter
Up to three million more people in East Asia could become infected with tuberculosis over the next five years because of a lack of funding to control the disease.

According to the World Health Organization, which has been meeting TB experts in the Japanese city of Osaka, 100,000 of those could die.

Tuberculosis kills two million people each year.

It is spread when infected people cough, sneeze or talk.

It propels TB bacteria into the air and these are easily inhaled. Left untreated, each person with active TB will infect on average between 10 and 15 people every year - so there are worries of a big increase in the number of cases.

Poverty link

This is particularly a problem in industrialised nations, which tend to regard TB as a disease of the developing world. That has led many governments in wealthier countries to reduce funding for treatment.

Now the WHO is calling for more money as the disease is becoming more common.

Other data shows that about half the TB cases in the United States and the UK are in people born outside those countries - mainly in immigrants and refugees. There is also an increasing link between TB and poverty.

According to the WHO about 1,000 people die of the disease every day in the western Pacific region and countries like Japan and Singapore are beginning to face TB problems.

Aid Agencies and TB experts in Osaka have called for more funding for treatment to stop the situation getting worse.

See also:

14 Dec 99 | Medical notes
22 Jun 01 | Health
More accurate TB test unveiled
11 Jul 01 | Health
Fungal link offers TB hope
25 Jul 01 | Health
Britain hit by drug-resistant TB
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