The Global Impact

TB is one of the deadliest and most disabling diseases in the world today. Most cases of TB can be treated and cured, but about 40% of TB patients go undiagnosed. And even though TB is treatable, treatment is exceptionally hard on patients:

  • For drug-sensitive TB (TB that responds to first line medications), patients are treated with several different medications for at least six months, and can struggle with nausea, liver problems, joint pain and other serious side effects, including hearing loss.
  • For multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), treatment lasts at least 1 ½ years, with extremely painful injections and several drugs that can cause even more serious side effects, including deafness, jaundice, nausea, fatigue, kidney problems, nerve damage, vomiting, hallucinations, and psychosis. A person being treated for MDR-TB typically needs up to 14,600 pills and 460 injections.
  • Treatment is even harder on extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) patients and the success rate is even lower.

Even if a patient makes it through the difficult treatments and survives, it is possible to get TB again, and again, and again.

TB is a Threat to Local Economies and the Global Economy

The economic impact of TB can be staggering for individuals, families, communities, and governments. Household wage-earners with TB are often unable to work for months at a time and may have difficulty caring for their children.

According to the WHO, TB costs the world over $21 billion each year, including $9.2 billion for treatment and control activities and $12 billion in additional economic costs and lost productivity. In the U.S., treatment for MDR-TB takes 20-26 months and costs $294,000, on average. And treating a single case of XDR-TB could cost more than $694,000 -- enough to wipe out a small city’s total public health budget for a year.