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Tuberculosis (TB) persists as one of the major public health problems in Tanzania, which is ranked by the WHO among the 22 countries with the highest TB burden in the world. The number of people diagnosed with the disease has steadily increased from 11,753 in 1983 to over 63,000 in 2010. The majority of cases appear in young adult population groups aged 15-45 years.

It is estimated that 60 percent of the population in Tanzania is infected with the TB bacteria. Most infections in humans result in an asymptomatic, latent infection, where less than one in ten develop the active disease if they have a normal immune system. If the immune system becomes compromised by malnutrition or HIV, the risk of developing active TB disease increases significantly.

The increase of TB in Tanzania is mainly attributed to the HIV epidemic, where Tanzania is again classified as a high burden country. Factors such as poverty, population growth and urban overcrowding have also contributed. That said, effective medication and treatment programs, free drugs and testing are starting to bring the problem under control. The battle now is to inform people and to take the stigma out of both diseases.

TB is a common and—if untreated—a deadly infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB normally attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. The bacteria are spread through the air when people who have the disease in their lungs cough or sneeze in a closed room where other people can inhale the bacteria.

The number of people who become sick with TB each year is stable or falling slowly worldwide since 2006. However, the Africa region is not on track to reach the Millennium Development goal of halving the 1990 level of TB deaths by 2015.

In 2010, there were an estimated 8.8 million new cases globally and 1.45 million deaths (350,000 in co-infection cases TB/HIV), mostly in developing countries. An estimated 10 million children became orphans due to parental TB death.

The distribution of TB is not uniform across the globe. TB is a social disease, reflecting standard of living, access to nutrition and the quality of the health care system.

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