Tuberculosis (TB) is often referred to as “Ebola with wings” because if left untreated, the disease – for which an estimated one in three cases are not diagnosed – has a mortality of more than 50 percent. The University of Sydney/UNSW team has uncovered evidence it says will be a game-changer for the global disease.
More than 100,000 people in a high-burden country, Vietnam, have participated in the group’s clinical trials, which demonstrate that screening significantly increases detection rates, slashes mortality rates and is cost-effective. The results are relevant for other high-burden regions and populations at risk for TB, including migrant populations in Australia.
The group has produced findings that have major implications for international efforts for reducing TB, filling a gap in evidence identified by the World Health Organisation, and supporting the scale-up of efforts to find and treat cases to meet the WHO target of eliminating TB by 2035.
“These exciting results show that major steps towards TB elimination are possible with existing tools and highlight the importance of controlling TB in our region for Australia,” said Professor Britton.
Professor Guy Marks is a respiratory physician and epidemiologist committed to finding solutions to the big problems affecting global lung health.
"We have had most of the tools needed to diagnose TB for over 100 years and the drugs need to effectively cure the disease for over 50 years. With these tools we have nearly eliminated it in many countries. In my view it is a scandal that, in 2019, it remains the largest infectious disease killer in the world," said Professor Marks.
Tuberculosis is the leading infectious cause of death globally. Most of the 10 million people each year who develop TB are in Asia, and one in three are not diagnosed.