LONDON — The World Health Organization says the number of people with tuberculosis has fallen for the first time.
In a report issued Tuesday, WHO estimated 8.8 million people fell ill last year, dropping from a peak of about 9 million in 2005. Officials said fewer people are now dying from the disease, but that a third of cases worldwide are probably not reported.
The small decline in reported cases is partly due to increased availability of medical treatment for TB, WHO said. The U.N. health agency also said estimates are now more accurate because countries have better surveillance of tuberculosis patients.
The TB death rate is expected to be reduced by half by 2015 everywhere except Africa, where the AIDS epidemic has also fueled a spike in tuberculosis.