Rome: The World Health Organisation (WHO), along with the European Respiratory Society (ERS), on Thursday presented a new framework to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) in countries with low levels of the disease.
There are 33 countries and territories where there are fewer than 100 TB cases per million population.
Low TB-burden countries already have the means to drive down TB cases dramatically by 2035.
"Universal health coverage, which ensures everyone has access to the health services they need without suffering financial hardship as a result, is the bedrock. The key is to target smart TB interventions towards the people who need them most," said WHO's assistant director-general Hiroki Nakatani.
The framework outlines an initial "pre-elimination" phase, aiming to have fewer than 10 new TB cases per million people per year by 2035 in these countries.
The goal is to then achieve full elimination of TB by 2050, defined as less than one case per million people per year.
"Although TB is preventable and curable, in these 33 settings, 155,000 people still fall ill each year and 10,000 die. Millions are infected and at risk of falling ill," the WHO statement said.
According to professor G.B. Migliori from ERS, "powerful antibiotics and better living standards have almost pushed the disease out of many high-income countries. But we still have not succeeded".
"But if we get it right, and recommit to fighting the disease, both at home and abroad, TB will eventually no longer be a public health threat," he added.