A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that tuberculosis has killed more people than HIV/AIDS last year.
Based on the agency's report, despite the successfully efforts to cure the infectious disease, it is fast becoming one of the world's leading causes of death, Reuters has learned.
According to WHO, in 2014, TB claimed the lives of about 1.5 million individuals. AIDS, on the other hand, accounted for around 1.2 million deaths during the same year.
The agency's data showed that out of the 1.5 million people killed by TB last year, 400,000 of them were HIV-positive.
Despite the high number of deaths linked to TB, WHO noted that this is actually significantly less than the death rate reported in 1990. Margaret Chan, the director-general of WHO said that this reflects how efforts to cure and control the spread of TB improved over the years.
However, she also noted that the disease is still considered as a global epidemic that affects millions of people.
"The report shows that TB control has had a tremendous impact in terms of lives saved and patients cured," she said in a press release. "These advances are heartening, but if the world is to end this epidemic, it needs to scale up services and critically, invest in research."
WHO believes that proper funding will be able support advanced research and the development of a new vaccine against TB. The organization noted that these programs are vital because TB is starting to evolve into a superbug, which is already resistant to drugs that are commonly used to treat the disease, the Huffington Post reported.
According to the organization, to run these programs this year, about $1.4 billion is needed for interventions. These include developing early detection systems and a more effective vaccine.
This figure, however, does not cover research procedures. WHO noted that around $1.3 billion is needed to fund proper research projects, according to USA News.
Dr. Mario Raviglione, the head of WHO's Global TB Program, agreed with Chan's statement and added that efforts to reduce TB cases around the world need to be improved.
After all, various medical organizations already have access to new technology that can effectively diagnose TB and cure the disease while it's still in its early stages.
"Despite the gains, the progress made against TB is far from sufficient," Raviglione said. "We are still facing a burden of 4,400 people dying every day, which is unacceptable in an era when you can diagnose and cure nearly every person with TB."