1851One person in four is killed by TB in Europe and America.
1854TB is treated in sanatoria, with a strict regimen of bed-rest, fresh air at all times – patients are even moved outside in their beds in all weathers – a healthy diet and a gradual increase in activity levels.Freshair and bedrest for TB patients outside St Thomas's Hospital
1882Robert Koch identifies that TB is caused by an organism, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The Housing Act is enacted in the UK, leading to slum clearance and a gradual improvement of living standards as new housing stock is built. Household overcrowding and transmission of TB is reduced.Slum clearance
1920The first human trials of the vaccine Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), an attenuated version of Mycobaterium bovis (Bovine TB), are launched.
1935The Tuberculin Testing and Attested Herd Scheme, and increasing consumption of pasteurised milk, helps to prevent animal to human transmission of Bovine TB in the UK.Pasteurisation
1944Doctors Schatz, Bugie and Waksman announced the discovery of a drug called ‘Streptomycin‘ and that the first patient had been successfully treated with the drug.
1952Doctors Robizek and Selikoff at Seaview Hospital, New York, use a new drug called ‘Isoniazid‘ to treat TB patients.

Isoniazid chemical structure

1953A survey of 50,000 children showed an 80% reduction in infection rate following the BCG vaccination, leading to its introduction in secondary schools in the UK. At the time, those most at risk of TB in the UK were young adults in industrialised settings. The USA opts not to use BCG after their research showed contrary conclusions.
1960Professor John Crofton, a TB expert at the University of Edinburgh, proposed that a combination of Streptomycin, PAS and Isoniazid, could completely cure TB if used from the outset of an individual case. This radical approach, which halved TB notifications in Edinburgh over a three year period, was initially met with disbelief. Sir John’s findings were soon replicated in a large scale international trial, leading to the introduction of combination therapy as the global gold standard treatment. This method, which became known as the “Edinburgh Method”, continues to influence the medical world today, including combined therapy for HIV.Sir John Crofton
1970First outbreak of drug-resistant TB in the US.
1987TB figures in England and Wales hit their lowest recorded level since records began – 5,745 cases – following a downward trend since the beginning of the century. This trend is set to reverse significantly in the following 25 years.Increasing UK TB incidence graph
1993The World Health Organization (WHO) declares TB ‘a global emergency’ with deaths from TB higher than any previous year in history. WHO estimates that one third of the world’s population is latently infected with TB, leading to 7-8 million cases of active TB – and 1.3-1.6 million deaths, annually.
1995WHO begin promoting a new TB control strategy: Directly Observed Treatment Shortcourse (DOTS). DOTS features five components:

  • government commitment
  • case detection by microscopy
  • standardised treatment
  • a regular drug supply
  • standardised recording and reporting.

The first outbreak of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) is recorded in a London hospital HIV Unit.

Microscopy in Zambia
1997India launches the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), based on the DOTS strategy. India carries the burden of the highest number of TB cases in any one country.
1998The Stop TB Initiative is established following the meeting of the first ad hoc Committee on the Tuberculosis Epidemic, which was set up to discuss the worldwide upsurge in TB cases during the 1990s.

>> TB Alert is registered in the UK.

TB Alert logo

>> TB Alert, the UK’s national tuberculosis charity, launches on World TB Day, March 24th.


2000The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set a target to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of HIV, TB, malaria and other major diseases by 2015.The Amsterdam Declaration to Stop TB, developed by the Stop TB Initiative, calls for action from the 20 countries with the highest burden of TB.WHO endorses the establishment of a global partnership to stop TB, with targets for 2005 to diagnose 70% of all people with infectious TB and to cure 85% of those diagnosed.

>> TB Alert funds its first projects in India, in Delhi and Jharkhand State.
MDG 6 symbolStop TB in my lifetime logo
2001The Stop TB Partnership is launched – with TB Alert as a founding partner – leading to the development of a Global Plan to Stop TB 2001-2006.

>> TB Alert – initially run by trustees and volunteers – employs its first member of staff. Volunteers continue to contribute to TB Alert’s work in the UK and overseas.
2002The estimated global TB incidence rate peaks at 141 cases per 100,000 population.

>> TB Alert launches a series of nine patient information leaflets – these were revised in 2006 and endorsed by the NHS – covering key topics in TB patient support.


TB FAQ leaflet cover crop
2003>> Archbishop Desmond Tutu becomes TB Alert’s Patron. He continues as Patron today, despite retiring from much of his charitable activities in 2011.
2004The Second Stop TB Partners’ Forum produces the New Delhi Pledge, to develop a second global plan to guide the Partnership to achieve the Millennium Development Goals targets for TB by 2015.The Chief Medical Officer publishes the TB action plan, Stopping Tuberculosis in England. TB Alert is a key stakeholder.

>> TB Alert’s sister organisation, TB Alert India, is launched.
TB Alert India logo
2005The number of deaths annually from TB peaks worldwide at 2 million.

The Department of Health provides its first grant to TB Alert to increase awareness of TB.
>> The International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases (IUATLD) honour TB Alert’s Honorary President, Sir John Crofton, with their highest award, the Union Medal.
2006The second Global Plan to Stop TB (2006-2015) launches, setting out a revised blueprint for action to meet the targets set out under the first Global Plan.The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) release new guidelines for TB in the UK, after a consultation process that included TB Alert: Clinical Diagnosis and Management of Tuberculosis, and Measures for its Prevention and Control, (2006).RESULTS-UK, with TB Alert’s support, set up an All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis to play a central role in focusing attention on TB in Westminster.Global Plan 2006-15 cover

2007The Department of Health launches Tuberculosis Prevention and Treatment: a toolkit for planning, commissioning and delivering high-quality services in England, in support of the 2004 TB action plan. TB Alert is named in the toolkit as a key source of advice to Primary Care Trusts.The UK government drops prescription charges for TB medication a move that TB Alert advocated for since its inception.
2008The Global Leaders Forum on TB focuses attention on the link between TB and HIV and the need for enhanced action on co-infection.The UK Coalition to Stop TB launches with TB Alert as a founding member. The coalition is formed of UK-based organisations and individuals that share a commitment to fighting TB in the UK and overseas.

>> The TB Action Group (TBAG) launches with TB Alert’s support. TBAG provides a voice for people affected by TB in the UK.
>> TB Alert and TB Alert India receive their first grant from the UK Department for International Development (DfID) for the APCHIP project in India, which ran until September 2012.
>> TB Alert develops The Truth About TB programme as the Department of Health’s lead partner in delivering the TB awareness raising objectives set out in the TB action plan (2004) and TB commissioning toolkit (2007). The programme begins by raising awareness of the rise in TB among primary care trusts (PCTs).
UK Coalition to Stop TB logoThe Truth About TB logoTBAG logo
2009The Third Partners’ Forum in Rio de Janeiro produces the Rio Recommendations on TB.

>> TB Alert delivers its strategic plan (2009-2015) for fighting TB in Southern Africa.
>> TB Alert launches The Truth About TB website, to help raise awareness of TB in the UK.
>> TB Alert’s Honorary President, Sir John Crofton, passes away peacefully at the age of 97. Having worked tirelessly, to the end, Sir John is attributed to having saved over 10 million lives from TB. He is sadly missed.
2010 Cepheid launch the Gene Xpert molecular test for TB. This rapid test is endorsed by WHO and hailed as a major breakthrough.The Stop TB Partnership launches the Global Plan to Stop TB 2011-2015.The number of people falling ill annually with TB drops to 8.8 million. Though deaths from TB also drop, the figure remains high at 1.4 million people annually. The estimated global incidence rate stands at 128 cases per 100,000 population.

>> Under The Truth About TB programme, TB Alert begins to build the capacity of third sector organisations, that work with communities at high risk of TB in the UK, to develop their capacity to raise awareness of TB and to deliver TB services in association with statutory partners.


TB Alert's COTHAZ project, using GeneXpert systemGlobal Plan 2011-15 cover
2011DFID‘s new position paper on tackling HIV, Towards Zero Infections, identifies TB as the leading cause of death for people living with HIV and outlines steps on how the UK Government seeks to tackle TB-HIV co-infection.

TB reaches a new peak in the UK – at 8,963 cases – though the overall trend indicates that levels have been stabilising since 2005.
>> TB Alert launches a new patient support community for people affected by TB in the UK.
>> TB Alert receives a second round of funding from the Department of Health, to continue The Truth About TB programme – a huge endorsement of the work done so far to address awareness of TB in England.
>> TB Alert wins funding from DfID to continue its APCHIP programme in India until 2012.
2012The Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal reports cases of totally drug-resistant TB (TDR-TB) in India.

>> TB Alert delivers its Strategic Plan 2012-2017 for fighting TB in the UK and overseas in India, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi – with a view to expanding to reach more countries.

TB Alert logo