Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2012
 
   
B. Health
 
B.4. Malaria and tuberculosis

Malaria and tuberculosis (TB) are two infectious and potentially lethal diseases that have greatly affected the Asian and Pacific region. Progress has been made in fighting these pandemics in the region, and the number of malaria cases per 100,000 population has decreased significantly in recent years. Nevertheless, there are still high numbers of malaria cases in certain countries, and progress in bringing these down has been slow. There have been achievements in reducing TB cases in the region, especially in North and Central Asia, while the situation in the Pacific is not so promising and deserves attention.

The Asian and Pacific region has had significant success in reducing the incidence of malaria, placing several countries on track to meet, or even surpass, the malaria-related target of Millennium Development Goal 6.

In 2011, the region recorded the lowest malaria case incidence (136 per 100,000 population) in over three decades. The incidence was below 200 for the first time since 2000 and was less than half the figure for 2010, indicating a reduction of more than 50 per cent in the space of one year. Between 2001 and 2011, East and North-East Asia experienced a dramatic fall of over 90 per cent to very low levels of less than 2 per 100,000 population. In North and Central Asia, the decline was even greater and to even lower levels. Between 2001 and 2011, South and South-West Asia experienced a large drop in incidence, from 429 to 127, while in South-East Asia the number went from 765 to 349. Within the same period, the incidence in the Pacific (excluding Australia and New Zealand), albeit at much higher rates than other subregions, also fell significantly, dropping from 30,605 to 14,266.

Figure B.4-1
Malaria cases for 2001 and 2011, for the 10 countries that had the highest incidence in 2001

Figure B.4-1 Malaria cases for 2001 and 2011, for the 10 countries that had the highest incidence in 2001Several countries across the region have shown remarkable progress in combating malaria over the past decade and they are therefore on track to accomplish a diminution in the incidence of at least 75 per cent from 2000 to 2015,1 significantly greater than the relevant target under Millennium Development Goal 6. For example, Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Sri Lanka2 had malaria incidence surpassing 1,000 per 100,000 in 2000, but, by 2011, the incidence of malaria in these countries had fallen by over one half to less than 500 per 100,000. These three countries also experienced substantial progress in decreasing the numbers of malaria cases. The 57,423 cases reported in Cambodia in 2011 constituted a 72 per cent decline from the figure for 2000. Over the same period, the cases reported in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (17,904) and Sri Lanka (175) for 2011 showed declines of over 90 per cent from 2000.

Some countries in the Asian and Pacific region, particularly those with tropical or subtropical climates, continue to face challenges in combating malaria.

As rainfall and warm temperatures present an ideal habitat for Anopheles mosquitoes (the mosquitoes that host the malaria parasite), tropical and subtropical countries such as India (24 per cent), Indonesia (24 per cent) and Papua New Guinea (19 per cent) predictably reported the highest proportions of malaria cases in the region in 2011. The situation in Indonesia warrants attention since, between 2000 and 2011, the country experienced only an 8 per cent decrease in case numbers, while the declines in India and Papua New Guinea were each about 36 per cent. The decline in Papua New Guinea has been significant; yet, in 2011, it still had a considerably higher incidence of malaria (14,617 cases per 100,000 population) than all the other countries in the Asian and Pacific region except Solomon Islands. In comparison, Indonesia and India recorded incidence figures of 542 and 107, respectively. In addition to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, countries with a high incidence of malaria are Timor-Leste (3,290) and Vanuatu (2,384), both also surpassing the global average (1,530). However, in 2011, the cases recorded in Vanuatu represented a reduction of about 67 per cent from the 2010 figure.

The number of annual malaria deaths in the Asian and Pacific region has fallen by over two thirds since 2000.

The region has seen a very sizable decline in the number of malaria deaths, but, in some countries, there is still a lack of data, and this renders making comprehensive conclusions difficult. Improvements in detection, treatment and surveillance have proven to be instrumental in reducing malaria deaths. The annual number of malaria deaths in the region fell progressively between 2000 and 2011, from 7,848 to 2,481, which is the lowest number recorded since 1990. Within the same period of time, the three countries with the largest number of cases showed some variations in patterns. India witnessed the most deaths in 2006 (1,708), but the number fell significantly to 753 in 2011. Indonesia had a peak of 900 deaths in 2009 and the number fell to 388 in 2011. Papua New Guinea reported its highest number of deaths in 2005 (725), though the number declined steadily to 431 within six years. Myanmar, another highendemic country, also recorded a significant decline in deaths; the peak of 2,814 deaths occurred in 2001 but the number then fell steadily to 581 in 2011. However, this trend may not be entirely representative given changes in reporting practices.3

Figure B.4-2
Percentage change in malaria deaths between 2000 and 2011, for the six countries that had the highest figures in 2000

Figure B.4-2 Percentage change in malaria deaths between 2000 and 2011, for the six countries that had the highest figures in 2000

The Asian and Pacific region as a whole and most countries within it have met the TB-related target of Millennium Development Goal 6, but the region still accounts for the largest population of persons living with TB in the world.

Between 2000 and 2011, the number of new TB cases per 100,000 population in the region declined steadily by 17 per cent, falling from 167 to 139. Nonetheless, with the largest population of all regions (60 per cent of the global population), Asia and the Pacific has been recording a relatively larger population of those living with TB for the past decade. In 2011, the region hosted 8.5 million people living with TB (72 per cent of the global figure).Nonetheless, the figure for Asia and the Pacific (over 12.195 million) accounted for 78 per cent of the total global figure in 2000, showing a more rapid decline than the global aggregate. In 2011, there were three times more people living with TB in the Asian and Pacific region than in Africa. Yet, while there was a reduction of 30 per cent from 2000 to 2011 of people living with TB in this region, in Africa there was a 4 per cent increase over the same period.

North and Central Asia experienced the greatest reduction in the incidence of TB between 2000 and 2011 (45 per cent), followed by East and North-East Asia (28 per cent), South-East Asia (13 per cent) and South and South-West Asia (12 per cent). The Pacific, on the other hand, was the only subregion that, at a rate of 3 per cent, experienced an increase. In 2011, the incidence levels (per 100,000 population) of all North and Central Asian countries were below the region’s average rate (139), except Tajikistan (193). The 2011 incidence in Kazakhstan (129), Azerbaijan (113), Uzbekistan (101) and Turkmenistan (74) had dropped by about 65 per cent, or more, as in the case of Azerbaijan, at 83 per cent, since 2000.

Figure B.4-3
Tuberculosis incidence, Asian and Pacific subregions, 2000 to 2011

Figure B.4-3 Tuberculosis incidence, Asian and Pacific subregions, 2000 to 2011Another key approach to tracking a country’s progress in addressing TB is by using the case detection rate under the internationally recommended TB control strategy Directly Observed Treatment Shortcourse (DOTS). In 2000, the DOTS case detection rate in the Asian and Pacific region was 46 per cent, while the global rate was 51 per cent. The most recent data for DOTS case detection rates are from 2011, and in that year the region’s rate was equal to the global rate, at 71 per cent, showing greater improvement in the region than across the globe. Among the Asian and the Pacific subregions, South and South-West Asia recorded the lowest rate in 2011 (59 per cent), followed by the Pacific (65 per cent), South-East Asia (71 per cent), North and Central Asia (77 per cent), and East and North-East Asia (91 per cent).

Despite progress in the region more broadly, the number of people living with TB in the Pacific is rising.

The Pacific has always recorded the smallest number of people living with TB in the region (0.5 per cent of the region’s total figure in 2011); yet, the number of new TB cases between 2000 and 2011 increased by 22 per cent. A notable resurgence of TB cases was seen in the Marshall Islands, where the incidence increased consistently to reach 536 cases per 100,000 in 2011, which is more than double the rate of 2000. In Kiribati, there was an increase from 372 in 2000 to a peak of 502 in 2006 and then a fall to 356 in 2011. Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia, on the other hand, showed declining patterns within the same period, as the two countries experienced steady decreases from rates of 357 to 228 and of 279 to 200, respectively. Almost no change occurred in Papua New Guinea from 2000 to 2011, with an annual average of 351 per 100,000 population, a high burden that is accompanied by related challenges, as discussed in the box below.

Figure B.4-4
Tuberculosis incidence, Pacific subregion, 2000-2011

Figure B.4-4 Tuberculosis incidence, Pacific subregion, 2000-2011

Conducting national prevalence surveys has helped countries to combat TB.

At the country level, Cambodia exhibits what can be achieved in a low-income, high-burden country. Cambodia and China are the only countries in the region that twice conducted a national prevalence survey between 2000 and 2011.4 Cambodia conducted the surveys in 2002 and 2011 and within that period, the country’s TB prevalence was nearly halved, from 1,511 to 817 cases per 100,000 population. China demonstrated similar success by reporting a 36 per cent reduction in TB prevalence between 2000 and 2010, the years in which it carried out the surveys. These successes may prove that surveys contribute significantly to enhancing the evaluation of the impact of TB control and help identify ways to improve the way in which TB is treated.

Box B.4-1
A challenge for the tuberculosis response in Papua New Guinea: drug resistant cases

With 14,749 new TB cases diagnosed in 2011,a Papua New Guinea has become the country with the highest TB burden in the Pacific, the only subregion where TB incidence has increased in recent years. TB is a treatable disease; yet, in 2011, the country’s TB-related deaths were estimated at 3,700, almost 90 times greater than those in Australia (42), a Pacific country with just under one tenth of the number of new cases in 2011 (1,202) of Papua New Guinea. This shows that treatment for many TB cases in Papua New Guinea is inadequate or unattainable. In addition, some cases have become drug resistant, making treatment even more complex.

People who are diagnosed with TB should undergo treatment that involves taking anti-TB drugs (antibiotics) for at least six to nine months. However, such a lengthy treatment period often makes individuals prone to stopping the medication once they begin to feel better. Such an interruption unfortunately enables the bacteria to mutate, develop resistance and bring about further infection. A shortage of drugs is another factor that causes individuals to stop their medication. Financial constraints and the poor management of stock replenishment are frequent causes of shortages. Improper treatment regimens can also cause drug resistance. A clinical setting with poor quality of resources and the behavioural patterns of those infected may therefore increase the likelihood of drug-resistant TB.

Multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), in which the disease is resistant to basic anti-TB drugs (isoniazid and rifampicin), is a growing problem in Papua New Guinea. In 2011, the country estimated 410 MDR-TB cases, or 4.9 per cent of total TB cases.b Treatment for MDR-TB entails a different combination of stronger antibiotics for an even longer period of time; the current regimens recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) last 20 months.c In 2012, a more severe form of drug resistant TB, called extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), was observed through six cases arising in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province.d XDR-TB shows resistance to two of the second-line drugs that are used to treat MDR-TB (namely the injectable agent and any one fluoroquinolone). This level of drug-resistant TB also comes about as a result of inadequate or interrupted treatment for MDR-TB; moreover, the treatments for MDR-TB and XDR-TB are even less accessible since the options for treatment are limited and expensive. In addition, studies on effective treatment for XDR-TB are yet to be carried out in large cohorts, and, thus, WHO cannot recommend a routine use of the treatment’s alternatives.

In neighbouring Australia, which recently set up the Centre of Research Excellence in Tuberculosis Control to stop the spread of TB and to reduce its impact in the Asian and Pacific region, efforts have been directed at helping Papua New Guinea combat TB. The two Governments have been collaborating to establish better surveillance, detection, diagnosis and treatment for TB in Western Province. Under the partnership, the WHObased six-point Stop TB Strategy has been adopted to reduce the burden of TB by 2015 by ensuring that all TB patients, including those with drug-resistant TB, benefit from universal access to high-quality diagnosis and patient-centred treatment. Attention to having patients take the proper and full course of anti-TB drugs at the right time over the full period of medication has also become a key focus of the Stop TB Strategy in the fight to prevent the development of drug resistance.

____________________
a Tuberculosis profile of Papua New Guinea by the World Health Organization. Available from https://extranet.who.int/sree/Reports?op=Replet& name=/WHO_HQ_Reports/G2/PROD/EXT/TBCountryProfile&ISO2=pg&outtype=pdf.
b Ibid.
c World Health Organization, Global Tuberculosis Report 2012.
d Emma McBryde, Evaluation of Risks of Tuberculosis in Western Province Papua New Guinea (Canberra, Australian Agency for International Development, 2012). Available from www.ausaid.gov.au/countries/pacific/png/Documents/png-tb-evaluation-of-risk.pdf.

Further reading

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Making a Difference: Asia Regional Results Report 2011. Geneva, 2011. Available from www.theglobalfund.org/en/library/publications/ regionaloverviews/.

________. Making a Difference: Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Results Report 2011. Geneva, 2011. Available from www.theglobalfund.org/en/library/publications/regionaloverviews/.

World Health Organization. Global Tuberculosis Report 2012. Geneva, 2012. Available from www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/en/.

________. World Malaria Report. Geneva, 2012. Available from www.who.int/malaria/publications/world_malaria_report_2012/en/.

Technical notes

Malaria cases (number, per 100,000 population)
The number of new cases of malaria reported (presumed and confirmed) in a given time period expressed per 100,000 population. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values (number); weighted averages using population (WPP2012) as weight (per 100,000 population). Missing data are not imputed.

Malaria deaths (number)
Deaths caused by malaria in a given time period. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

TB prevalence and incidence rates (per 100,000 population)
Prevalence: TB prevalence refers to the number of cases of TB (all forms) in a population at a given point in time (sometimes referred to as “point prevalence”). It is expressed as the number of cases per 100,000 population. Estimates include cases of TB in people with HIV. Incidence: TB incidence is the estimated number of new TB cases arising in one year per 100,000 population. All forms of TB are included, as are cases of people with HIV. Aggregate calculations: MDG aggregation and imputation methods; weighted averages using population (WPP2012) as weight.

TB detection rate under DOTS (percentage of new TB cases)
The TB detection rate is the percentage of estimated new infectious TB cases detected under the internationally recommended TB control strategy DOTS. The term “case detection” as used here means that TB is diagnosed in a patient and is reported within the national surveillance system, and then to WHO. Aggregate calculations: Weighted averages using the number of TB cases per year (WHO Global Health Observatory) as weight. Missing data are not imputed.

Population living with TB (thousands)
Population living with TB refers to the number of cases of TB (all forms) in a population at a given point in time expressed in thousands. This is calculated for only economic, regional and subregional groupings. Aggregate calculations: MDG aggregation and imputation methods; the population for each economic, regional or subregional grouping multiplied by the TB prevalence rate, divided by 100,000.

New cases of TB (thousands)
New cases of TB refers to the estimated number of new TB cases arising in one year expressed in thousands. This is calculated for only economic, regional and subregional groupings. Aggregate calculations: MDG aggregation and imputation methods; the population for each economic, regional or subregional grouping multiplied by the TB incidence rate, divided by 100,000.

Source

Source of malaria data: WHO Global Malaria Programme, WHO World Malaria Report 2012, annexes (available from www.who.int/malaria/ publications/world_malaria_report_2012/en/). The principal data sources are national malaria control programmes in endemic countries. Standardized data collection forms are sent to each Government. Survey data (demographic and health surveys, multiple indicator cluster surveys and malaria indicator surveys) have been used to complement data submitted by national malaria control programmes. Data obtained: 4 June 2013 for malaria deaths, and 27 June 2013 for malaria cases.

Source of TB data: Millennium Indicators Database. Based on data from WHO. Annual standardized data collection forms are distributed to national TB control programmes or the relevant public health authorities. National TB control programmes that respond to WHO are also asked to update information on earlier years. As a result, case notification and treatment outcome data of a given year may differ from those published previously. Completed forms are collected and reviewed by WHO country offices, regional offices and headquarters. Data obtained: 1 August 2013 except Tuberculosis detection rate under DOTS obtained on 19 August 2013.

____________________
1 World Health Organization, World Malaria Report 2012 (Geneva, 2012). Available from www.who.int/malaria/publications/world_malaria_ report_2012/en/.
2 Countries reported in the World Health Organization World Malaria Report 2012, and where data and reporting are considered consistent.
3 World Health Organization, World Malaria Report 2012.
4 World Health Organization, Global Tuberculosis Report 2012 (Geneva, 2012), p. 26. Available from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/75938/ 1/9789241564502_eng.pdf.
 
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