WHO: Tuberculosis Declines For First Time

The World Health Organization says the number of people worldwide getting tuberculosis declined last year for the first time.

WHO statistics published Tuesday show the number of people who became sick with the disease dropped to 8.8 million in 2010. The number of people who died last year from TB fell to 1.4 million.

The U.N. agency says that overall, the death rate from TB has dropped 40 percent since 1990.

WHO’s Director-General Margaret Chan says strong leadership in many countries, coupled with domestic financing and foreign donor support, has begun to make a difference in the fight against tuberculosis.

However, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns that the progress in battling the disease is no reason for complacency.

He says too many people still develop TB each year and die from it and that sustained support for TB prevention and care is still badly needed in the world’s poorest countries.

TB bacteria destroy lung tissue and can spread through the air when people cough.

WHO says about a third of the world’s population is infected with TB bacteria but only a relatively small percentage develop the disease.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.