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.
The WHO report says some of the biggest gains came in Kenya, Tanzania and Brazil. China also made major gains, lowering its death toll more than 70 percent, to 55,000.
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. He says sustained support for TB prevention and care is still badly needed in the world’s poorest countries.
The TB bacteria destroys lung tissue and the bacteria 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.
Excellent news, but far too many people still suffer from TB.