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Non-health interventions that help to Stop TB

The latest medical debate on tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment focuses on poverty. While medical advancements in the last decades have allowed easy diagnosis and treatment of TB patients, the key challenges for prevention remain the complex social, economic and cultural factors which affect the spread of the disease. Non-health sectors therefore have important roles to play in the fight against TB. 

Here are a few things that development practitioners may want to consider that could help stop TB in its tracks:

         Increasing tobacco taxes to reduce tobacco use:  To take one example, about 40% of the TB burden in India can be attributed to smoking alone.  Tobacco taxation is the single most cost-effective measure to reduce tobacco use.

         Increasing alcohol taxes to reduce alcohol consumption:  Alcohol abuse can double or triple the risk of developing active TB (which, unlike passive TB, can kill and be transmitted to other persons). 

         Substituting clean fuels and clean stoves for indoor cooking and warming.  In most relevant countries the number of new TB cases would be reduced by around 20% if indoor air pollution would be reduced to healthy levels. 

         Improving food security. Undernutrition is not only an effect but a cause of active TB. In countries with high levels of undernutrition, one-third of new active TB cases are linked to this condition.

         Improving housing conditions:  Poverty, inadequate ventilation, and crowding -- particularly in houses and workplaces -- all breed TB. 

         Providing safety nets. The income effect that safety nets can have in improving housing and food, helps reduce the exposure of people to some TB risk factors. When people fall sick such safety nets can increase their access to adequate diagnostic and treatment. Safety nets can also empower people (increase agency) to improve their lives in other ways that reduce the risk of TB. 


For more information, contact Montserrat Meiro-Lorenzo, Senior Public Health Specialist, World Bank at

Last updated: 2012-03-23

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