Although tuberculosis is preventable and treatment has been available for the past 60 years, it continues to be a major cause of illness and death worldwide. About 2.2 billion people, a third of the world's population, are infected with TB and in 2013, the World Health Organization estimates that there will be nearly nine million new cases of active TB and 1.4 million TB deaths across the world.

More than 80 percent of TB cases and deaths are concentrated in 22 developing countries, mostly in Asia and Africa, designated by the WHO as "high burden" countries. A person with active TB disease will infect on average 10 to 15 other people over the course of a year unless they receive treatment, which is available free-of-charge in almost every country.

The biggest challenge to TB control around the world has been the emergence of multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains of the bacterium that causes TB. These deadly strains now cause diseases in roughly 500,000 people around the world particularly in the former Soviet Republics, Asia and Africa. Treatment is complicated, expensive and often beyond the capacity of National TB control programs in those regions.
MDR is a major threat to the progress made in global TB control and urgently underscores the need for better TB control and for an investment in research and development of new drugs and diagnostic tools.
In addition, HIV-associated TB, particularly in Africa, is another major challenge to TB control. Many studies have demonstrated that the two diseases can be sucessfully treated in tandam but this requires an adequate drug supply and careful coordination between TB and HIV treatment programs, both of which are often lacking in high-burden areas.

Early detection and treatment are proven to be the most effective weapons in fighting TB. Although tuberculosis control programs have been strengthened and expanded worldwide through use of Directly Observed Treatment (DOTS), there is still a critical shortage of technical, financial and human resources. 

Through our partnership with Union North America and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, WLF supports programs that empower people affected by tuberculosis and mobilize communities against the epidemic, as well as tuberculosis-related education and research.