WHO says global tuberculosis deaths rise due to coronavirus pandemic

WION Web Team
Geneva, SwitzerlandUpdated: Oct 15, 2021, 12:24 PM IST

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The pandemic has caused several disruptions in the healthcare facilities available leading to a setback to the progress

The World Health Organization has said that it has witnesses a growth in the global tuberculosis deaths as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As per the WHO report, 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis last year, including more than 200,000 people with HIV.

According to Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director, Global TB Programme, World Health Organization (WHO), “A crucial message is related to the access to essential services and again, due to COVID impact, we can see that these gaps are growing, and 4.1 million people didn't receive access to timely diagnosis and life-saving treatment.”

“Less than 50 percent of the funding needed to provide services are available, and for TB research and innovation, we have less than one billion available, all this is becoming critical. And we see that the world is not on track to reach our high-level meeting on tuberculosis targets for 2022. And we have just one year left to the next UN General Assembly high-level meeting in 2023,” Kasaeva added.

The report stated that only one in each three people with drug-resistant tuberculosis received the treatment for it.

In the case of comparison with the previous year, there has been a drop of 21 percent in the provision of TB preventive treatment.

The pandemic has caused several disruptions in the healthcare facilities available leading to a setback to the progress.

"This is alarming news that must serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. 

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that most often affect the lungs. Like Covid, it is transmitted by air by infected people, for example by coughing.

Most TB cases occur in just 30 countries, many of them in poorer nations in Africa and Asia, and more than half of all new cases are in adult men. Women account for 33 percent of cases and children 11 percent. 

The WHO's aim is to reduce deaths from TB by 90 per cent, and the incidence rate by 80 percent by 2030 compared to 2015, but the latest figures threaten to jeopardise the strategy, it said. 

And its modelling suggest the number of people developing the disease and dying from it could be "much higher in 2021 and 2022".

The report said that the number of people newly diagnosed and cases reported to national authorities fell from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020. 

India, Indonesia, the Philippines and China were the main countries that saw a drop in reported cases.