GENEVA – Global efforts to control tuberculosis have failed and radical new approaches are needed, experts said today.

With more than 9 million people infected last year, including 2 million deaths, officials say there is more tuberculosis now than at any other time in history. In a special tuberculosis edition of the British medical journal Lancet published today, experts said that past failures prove new strategies are required.

For years, the World Health Organization and partners have fought TB largely with a program where health workers watch patients take their drugs — even though the agency acknowledged in a 2008 report that this treatment program didn’t significantly curb TB spread.

Experts said TB is also intertwined with poverty, as it spreads widely among people living in overcrowded, dirty places. They said TB programs need to go beyond health and include other sectors like housing, education and transportation.

The recent spread of drug-resistant TB illustrates there have been major shortcomings in the WHO’s drug program. Drug-resistant TB emerges when patients don’t finish their pills or take substandard drugs.


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