TB is a disease of poverty. 95% of new TB cases and 98% of all TB deaths are in the developing world, with more than half of all deaths occurring in Asia. The risk of becoming infected with TB is associated with malnutrition, crowding, poor air circulation, and poor sanitation – all factors associated with poverty.
Even when TB services are free of charge, the disease is costly to the poor. The average TB patient loses three to four months of work time and up to 30% of their yearly household earnings. Families may be forced to sell what little livestock or land they have.
The poverty cycle worsens as children are forced to quit school as there is no money for uniforms or fees, or because they have to work to support the family. In this manner, poverty is passed on from generation to generation.
Elisabeth (left) is 52 years old and lives in Zambia. She is a widow but has to support her 4 children as well as her son’s wife and 2 grandchildren. She is the only member of the household with a regular job; she makes woollen mats which she sells at the local market. A bath mat takes 2 weeks and will sell for around £3. With none of her other family members bringing in income, this little money has to stretch to feed the whole household. If Elisabeth hadn’t survived TB with our help, her whole family would have been pushed deeper into poverty.