The global burden of tuberculosis: results from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015

Published December 6, 2017, in The Lancet Infectious Diseases (opens in a new window)


An understanding of the trends in tuberculosis incidence, prevalence, and mortality is crucial to tracking of the success of tuberculosis control programs and identification of remaining challenges. We assessed trends in the fatal and non-fatal burden of tuberculosis over the past 25 years for 195 countries and territories.


We analyzed 10,691 site-years of vital registration data, 768 site-years of verbal autopsy data, and 361 site-years of mortality surveillance data using the Cause of Death Ensemble model to estimate tuberculosis mortality rates. We analyzed all available age-specific and sex-specific data sources, including annual case notifications, prevalence surveys, and estimated cause-specific mortality, to generate internally consistent estimates of incidence, prevalence, and mortality using DisMod-MR 2.1, a Bayesian meta-regression tool. We assessed how observed tuberculosis incidence, prevalence, and mortality differed from expected trends as predicted by the Socio-demographic Index (SDI), a composite indicator based on income per capita, average years of schooling, and total fertility rate. We also estimated tuberculosis mortality and disability-adjusted life years attributable to the independent effects of risk factors including smoking, alcohol use, and diabetes.


Globally, in 2015, the number of tuberculosis incident cases (including new and relapse cases) was 10.2 million (95% uncertainty interval 9.2 million to 11.5 million), the number of prevalent cases was 10.1 million (9.2 million to 11.1 million), and the number of deaths was 1.3 million (1.1 million to 1.6 million). Among individuals who were HIV-negative, the number of incident cases was 8.8 million (8.0 million to 9.9 million), the number of prevalent cases was 8.9 million (8.1 million to 9.7 million), and the number of deaths was 1.1 million (0.9 million to 1.4 million). Annualized rates of change from 2005 to 2015 showed a faster decline in mortality (−4.1% [−5.0 to −3.4]) than in incidence (−1.6% [−1.9 to −1.2]) and prevalence (−0.7% [−1.0 to −0.5]) among HIV-negative individuals. The SDI was inversely associated with HIV-negative mortality rates but did not show a clear gradient for incidence and prevalence. Most of Asia, Eastern Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa had higher rates of HIV-negative tuberculosis burden than expected given their SDI. Alcohol use accounted for 11.4% (9.3–13.0) of global tuberculosis deaths among HIV-negative individuals in 2015, diabetes accounted for 10.6% (6.8–14.8), and smoking accounted for 7.8% (3.8–12.0).


Despite a concerted global effort to reduce the burden of tuberculosis, it still causes a large disease burden globally. Strengthening of health systems for early detection of tuberculosis and improvement of the quality of tuberculosis care, including prompt and accurate diagnosis, early initiation of treatment, and regular follow-up, are priorities. Countries with higher than expected tuberculosis rates for their level of sociodemographic development should investigate the reasons for lagging behind and take remedial action. Efforts to prevent smoking, alcohol use, and diabetes could also substantially reduce the burden of tuberculosis.

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GBD Tuberculosis Collaborators. The global burden of tuberculosis: results from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors (GBD) 2015 Study. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2018; 18(3):261-284. PMCID: PMC5831985