New data from the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show that despite an overall decline in numbers of people with tuberculosis (TB), the disease remains a major public health challenge in the European region.
The report that includes data for 2017 shows 275,000 incident cases were reported in the region, with an estimated 77,000 cases of rifampicin-resistant and multi-drug-resistant TB (RR/MDR-TB) among notified pulmonary cases.
The report says the proportion of RR/MDR-TB among new and previously treated TB cases in the region exceeds the global average significantly, with 17 per cent in new and 53 per cent in previously treated cases compared with 3.5 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively.
"If we don’t act rapidly and decisively, the drug-resistant forms of the disease will increase their hold on Europe," said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. "Despite the challenges and threats that we face, I believe that Europe has the full potential to lead the way. We have science and technology, skilled health professionals and high-level political commitment to leaving no-one behind - we have got what it takes to end TB,” added Dr Jakab.