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Global progress against common diseases - report

Tuesday July 22nd, 2014

A major international 21st century drive against three common diseases has been highly effective - but the world is a long way short of eliminating HIV, TB and malaria, researchers say today.

Before the turn of the century, the United Nations agreed a series of millennium development goals and the sixth was to tackle these three diseases.

The latest analysis challenges recent estimates of the scale of these diseases - arguing that malaria is killing more people than the last estimate but HIV is killing fewer.

But researchers say their findings highlight the lack of good information about rates of disease in many countries.

Professor Christopher Murray, of the University of Washington, USA, reports his findings in The Lancet and will also report them to the International Aids Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

According to his analysis, some 29 million people were living with HIV in 2012 - but the overall rate of death and ill-health caused by the virus was 25% less than a United Nations estimate two years ago.

He says the fight against TB looks "promising" and that rates are declining faster than at the end of the last century.

Professor Murray said: "We have seen a huge increase in both funding and the policy attention given to HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB over the past 13 years, and our findings show that a focus on these specific diseases has had a real impact.

"However, much remains to be done and all three diseases continue to be major health challenges in 2013."

He added: "What is clear from our analysis is how little we reliably know in many countries to track progress.

"Rapidly reducing the massive uncertainty that surrounds the measurement of these diseases, particularly malaria, will be essential if we are to better monitor, and respond to, evidence about progress, or not, with their control."

Christopher J L Murray et al. Global, regional, and national incidence and mortality for HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria during 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet 22 July 2014 [abstract]

Tags: Flu & Viruses | North America | Respiratory | World Health

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