WHO report notes significant upsurge in TB deaths amid COVID outbreak

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World: WHO – World Health Organisation has released a Global TB report which shows that the world recorded a significant upsurge in TB(tuberculosis) deaths amid the time of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the year 2020, more individuals died from TB, with far very few people being diagnosed, treated and provided with TB preventive treatment compared to 2019, and overall spending on essential TB services falling.

WHO noted that the first reason is that worldwide due to the handling of pandemic, the TB services were disrupted. The second is that people have struggled a lot to seek care in the context of COVID lockdowns.

The Director-General of WHO – Adhanom Ghebreyesus, asserted, “This report confirms our fears that disruption of necessary health services due to the pandemic could start to unravel years of progress against tuberculosis.”

Ghebreyesus noted that this is an alarm for the world, adding, “This is alarming news which must serve as a ‘global wake-up call’ to the urgent need for investments & innovation to close the gaps in – diagnosis, treatment & care for millions of people impacted by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease.”

The health organisation further outlined that TB is one of the services that have been worse impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As per data, around 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020 – (including 214 000 among HIV positive individuals).

The increase in TB deaths figures mainly occurred in the 30 nations with the ‘highest burden of TB’. The modelling projections of WHO suggest that the number of people developing TB and dying from the disease could get much higher in 2021 and 2022.

The number of individuals newly diagnosed with – TB & those reported to national governments decreased from – 7.1 million in the year 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020. WHO’s report estimates that around 4.1 million people are currently suffering from TB but have not been – diagnosed with the disease or have not officially reported to national authorities.

In addition, the no. of people treated for – drug-resistant TB dropped by 15%, from 177 000 in the year 2019 to 150 000 in 2020, which is equivalent to only about 1 in 3 of those in need.

The report by WHO calls on all the nations to put in place urgent measures so as to restore access to necessary TB services. It also calls for a doubling of investments in – TB research & innovation as well as collective action across the health sector and others to address the social, environmental & economic determinants of TB and its outcomes.