WASHINGTON – The mortality rate from tuberculosis fell 37 percent between 2000 and 2016, with major reductions in Europe and the Asia Pacific region, but TB still remains the most lethal infectious disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report on Monday.
In 1997, the WHO established a global system to monitor the impact of the disease, which is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and generally affects the lungs.
Despite a decreasing mortality rate, there were 6.3 million new tuberculosis cases reported in 2016, compared to 6.1 million the previous year.
In 2016, according to the WHO report, there were 10.4 million people with tuberculosis, of whom 90 percent were adults, 65 percent were men and 10 percent were patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which weakens the immune system, increasing the risk of contracting the disease.
Tuberculosis boosted by HIV infection is prevalent in Africa, where 74 percent of HIV-positive individuals contracted tuberculosis last year.
In 2016, nearly 1.67 million HIV-positive people died of tuberculosis, the WHO said.
On average, the disease kills nearly 10 million people each year and remains the leading cause of death from infectious diseases, surpassing AIDS, the WHO said.
Globally, the mortality rate decreased by 37 percent between 2000 and 2016, with the steepest regional reductions in Europe, with a 6 percent annual decline, and the Asia Pacific area, with a 4.6 percent annual drop.
On average, the tuberculosis mortality rate has been falling almost 3 percent annually, while new cases have been decreasing 2 percent annually.