Tuberculosis (TB) is a centuries old disease that kills 1.4 million people every year. While there are effective treatments, failure to complete them properly and mismanagement of TB medicines result in resurgence of TB that resists our available treatment tools. Without careful stewardship and aggressive treatment, TB could once again become an untreatable worldwide concern.

USAID is working with 27 countries to improve TB services. These efforts save lives and prevent the spread of TB. By acting in a concerted manner on TB now, we can reduce the potential of drug resistant TB in the future. 

By 2014, we will:

  • Contribute to a 50 percent reduction in TB deaths and disease burden from the 1990 baseline.
  • Sustain or exceed the detection of at least 70 percent of sputum smear-positive cases of TB and successfully treating at least 85 percent of cases detected in countries with established U.S. Government tuberculosis programs.
  • Successfully treat 2.6 million new sputum smear-positive TB patients under DOTS programs by 2014–primarily through support for needed services, commodities, health workers, and training, and additional treatment through coordinated multilateral efforts.
  • Diagnose and initiate treatment of at least 57,200 new multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB cases by 2014, and provide additional treatment through coordinated multilateral efforts. 

Mary is five years old and lives in Africa. A community health worker helped her realize that her persistent cough may be TB. Watch this video to learn about Mary's story and the challenges of childhood TB. 

Video Transcript 
Hi, my name is Mary. I am almost 5 years old and live in Africa. For many weeks, I was not feeling well, and too weak to go to school. I did not even want to play with my friends. Also, I had been coughing all day and night and was not interested in eating. Because I was starting to lose weight, my mom took me to the drug seller in our village. He said I might have pneumonia and gave me cough medicine. It did not make me feel any better. I continued to cough and have fevers at night and lose weight. One day the community health worker visited our village, and she talked to our people about tuberculosis and how it was a big problem in our area. When she heard that I was sick with a cough and that my dad had died of HIV/AIDS last year, she encouraged my mom to bring me to the clinic. There at the clinic, they asked me to try to cough up sputum so that they could look at it under the microscope. But I could not cough up anything for them and unfortunately, they have no other test to figure out what makes me cough. However, they told me I probably have TB and might have gotten it from my dad who had a bad cough for the months before he died. Because the clinic has no drugs for little kids my age, they gave me a lot of pills – which look too big to swallow and which my mommy has to crush up for me every day. They say that I have to take them every day for many weeks. Thankfully, our community health worker comes by my hut every day to help me and my mom with my pills and to check up on me. It is easy to forget about my pills, since my mom gets busy with my younger brother and sister. It has been very hard to have TB because when other people heard about me, they would not let my friends come to play with me. But I am feeling much better now and someday, when I grow up, I am going to help other children with TB by discovering a better way to diagnose TB in children and to create drugs that are made for kids my size. I also want to help people diagnose TB earlier. Perhaps I would still have a daddy to hug me if they had found out that his cough was because he had TB. TB is curable!
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Last updated: August 13, 2014

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