New study says aggressive tuberculosis control could yield substantial economic gains for poor countries
WASHINGTON, D.C., 12 December 2007 — A new World Bank research report, with collaboration from WHO and the Stop TB Partnership, finds that 22 countries with the world’s highest numbers of TB cases could earn significantly more than they spend on TB diagnosis and treatment if they signed onto a global plan to sharply reduce the numbers of TB-related deaths. Highly affected African countries could gain up to 9 times their investments in TB control.
The study also warns about the need to step-up TB control worldwide with the growing emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) in Southern Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The following are the key messages of the report:
- TB control is a smart investment. Countries heavily affected by tuberculosis (TB) can earn significantly more than they spend on tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment. To reap these benefits they must fully implement the Stop TB Partnership's Global Plan to Stop TB, which sets out a roadmap for confronting the disease over the next eight years.
- TB is strongly linked to poverty because it most often strikes adults during their most productive years, weakening them and rendering them unable to work. Children are vulnerable to TB as well, and the disease may force them out of school, limiting their future prospects for economic productivity. The illness of a parent with TB also may push them into a breadwinner role, with the same results.
- Countries in sub-Saharan Africa can make important economic strides through TB control. They could see their economic benefits exceed their costs by about 9 times over, if they scale up TB diagnosis and treatment in line with the Global Plan to Stop TB. Countries in Asia, especially China and India, can make even stronger economic gains.
- Many countries are to be congratulated for the progress they have made on TB control. This new information about the economic benefits of addressing TB should spur countries to make a stronger financial commitment to TB control. And it should prompt donors to pledge more funds to fighting TB.