"In the space of 17 years, 51 million people have been successfully treated and cared for according to WHO recommendations. Without that treatment, 20 million people would have died," Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO Stop TB Department, said in a statement. "This milestone reflects the commitment of governments to transform the fight against TB."
Nonetheless, Raviglione said there is still an estimated 1.4 million deaths from TB a year, including half a million women, underlining the disease as one of the world's top killers of women, the report said.
However, Raviglione warned the global fight against the disease remains fragile.
"The momentum to break this disease is in real danger," Raviglione said. "We are now at a crossroads between TB elimination within our lifetime, and millions more TB deaths."
The WHO Global TB report involving data from 204 countries and territories also said there has been continued decline in the number of people falling ill from TB, but still an enormous global burden of 8.7 million new cases in 2011.