PAHO urges adoption of innovative technologies and treatments to eliminate tuberculosis

IA asiste en el diagnóstico de la tuberculosis

Washington, D.C., March 22, 2024 (PAHO)- On the eve of World Tuberculosis Day (24 March), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is calling countries to intensify the fight against this preventable and curable disease. Tuberculosis, or TB, is the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent worldwide, surpassed only by COVID-19.

In the Americas, about 325,000 people fell ill from TB in 2023 and 35,000 died from the disease, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Report. These figures represent an increase of 14% and 41%, respectively, compared to 2015, a surge exacerbated by the pandemic. In addition, an estimated 83,000 people went undiagnosed and untreated for TB.

"It is time to redouble efforts and work toward a future where TB is no longer a public health threat," PAHO Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa said.  “Countries in the Americas have committed to TB elimination and we have new technologies and strategies that could bring us closer to realizing this vision," he stressed.

Among the advancements that can help countries eliminate tuberculosis by 2030, Dr. Barbosa highlighted AI-assisted radiography for active case finding within communities, rapid molecular tests to detect the disease at the primary healthcare level and oral and shorter treatments.

Equipo de radiografía portátil
Dianóstico de la tuberculosis

In addition, the PAHO Director stressed the importance of increasing investment, multisectoral collaboration, and adoption of latest WHO recommendations to reverse the trend of increasing TB cases.

The burden of tuberculosis varies significantly among countries in the region. In 2022, while three countries recorded a high incidence of tuberculosis – with over 100 cases per 100,000 population – 14 countries and territories managed to reduce TB incidence to low levels, especially in the Caribbean region, and some are close to reach the threshold for disease elimination.

"Despite the strong impact of the pandemic and the significant heterogeneity in incidence, the Americas are uniquely positioned to become the first region in the world to eliminate TB," Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, Director of PAHO's Department for the Prevention, Control and Elimination of Communicable Diseases, said. Aldighieri stressed that the Organization's Disease Elimination Initiative, which was relaunched in September 2023 and addresses TB, is central to achieving this goal.

PAHO works in partnership with countries in the Americas to end TB and ensure equitable access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment services.

To mark World Tuberculosis Day, PAHO will hold a high-level event on 25 March at 10:30 AM, Washington, DC time, where leaders, representatives from civil society, and health experts from the region will discuss opportunities and challenges towards TB elimination in the Americas.