The number of deaths from tuberculosis (TB) increased last year for the first time in a decade, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, putting the number at 1.5 million. The WHO blamed the rise on disruptions to health care during the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO’s annual report on TB, a preventable and curable disease, said the pandemic and related curbs had “reversed years of global progress” and warned that TB deaths could be “much higher” again this year and next. In 2020, the Geneva-based WHO said, “more people died from TB, with far fewer people being diagnosed and treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared with 2019,” when around 1.4 million deaths from the bacterial respiratory disease were recorded.
The “profound” impact of the coronavirus pandemic and related cuts to health care left more than 4.3 million more people suffering from tuberculosis (TB) without treatment in 2020, according to the Stop TB Partnership. Neglecting TB cases means “all but certain death for probably half that number,” the Partnership, a United Nations-linked body, said on Tuesday. Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the partnership, warned that the roughly 50 per cent of survivors “will not only suffer the consequences of the disease but will also spread TB to many more, perpetuating the cycle of transmission.” The prioritization of coronavirus has in turn meant 1.2 million fewer TB diagnoses so far this year compared to 2019.
DUBLIN — The coronavirus pandemic is having a “worse than expected” impact on deadly tuberculosis (TB), the Stop TB Partnership warned on Thursday. Repeat lockdowns have “prevented access to TB diagnostic and treatment services,” the partnership said, while the focus on the pandemic in hospitals and by governments has “severely disrupted TB responses in low- and middle-income countries.” The result has been a “drastic decline” in diagnosis and treatment, particularly in nine “high TB burden countries” such as India and Indonesia. According to India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who chairs the partnership’s board, “TB didn’t go anywhere when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.”