A record 2.3 million people were cured of tuberculosis in 2007, exceeding the global treatment target for the first time, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
"With 87 percent of treated patients being cured, the 85 percent global target was exceeded for the first time," said the UN health agency, explaining that the latest data related to treatment dated to 2007 as a delay of six months is required to verify if a patient has indeed been cured.
The WHO also warned that the current pace of progress was "far from sufficient" to meet the target of eliminating the contagious disease.
Some 9.8 million TB cases were recorded in 2008. About 1.8 million people died in the year from the disease, including half a million deaths associated with HIV.
Drug resistant strains of the TB bacteria are also infecting 500,000 people a year, but only 6,000 were receiving treatment according to WHO standards in 2008.
Mario Raviglione, who heads the WHO's Stop TB department, pointed to a two billion dollar shortfall in funding and warned many more could miss out on the needed treatment.
"Without help to fill the two billion dollar funding gap for TB care and control in 2010, the most vulnerable people will continue to miss the benefits so many others have seen," he said.