Tuberculosis (TB ) is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis that mainly affects the lungs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB is one of the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause from a single infectious agent, globally.

Incidence rates and the severity of national outbreaks of TB infection vary widely among countries. According to GlobalData’s epidemiological forecast incidence rates the 16 major markets (16MM) range from approximately two and six cases per 100,000 population in the US and Italy, respectively, to 213 or 430 cases per 100,000 population in India or South Africa in 2017 (Figure 1).

TB is a disease that has affected the global population for many years, but the source of the illness remained unknown until 1882 when Dr Robert Koch discovered the bacteria responsible. Since then, medical advances and preventive medicine have led to some countries, in particular those in Western Europe and North America, reducing the burden of TB to very low levels.

Still, every year millions of people around the world become ill with TB. Although GlobalData’s forecast indicates that in the 16MM new cases of TB are declining, incidence is quite high in certain markets like Brazil, China, India, and South Africa. Not everyone who is infected with M. tuberculosis will develop the disease, but certain characteristics, known as risk factors, may increase a person’s likelihood of developing TB.

Differences in risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, malnutrition, and being HIV positive may explain why we see such a dramatic difference in incidence rates across the 16MM. Access to healthcare services that provide TB prevention services, such as vaccination of children with the bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine or treatment for dormant TB, also plays a role in incidence rates. Other socioeconomic determinants that influence the variation in incidence rates across the different markets are level of poverty, sanitation, and education. Undiagnosed TB is also a major concern, as it creates additional burdens on a country’s healthcare system and increases the likelihood of death and spread of the disease.

Public health initiatives geared toward reducing the exposure of the population to risk factors are fundamental in reducing the number of new cases TB seen each year. However, the monitoring and reporting new cases of TB, early diagnosis, and treatment of new cases are just as important. Technological breakthroughs such as developing and implementing a TB vaccine for adults would lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of new cases seen in the 16MM.

Further detail on the epidemiology forecast for TB for the 16MM can be found on GlobalData’s Epidemiology and Market Size Database.