Millions of people are expected to fall ill with TB

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Migrant workers queue for medical examination after reaching quarantine center in their hometown of Allahabad during government-imposed national foreclosure as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 corona virus in Allahabad, India on 27 April 2020.

Ritesh Shukla | NurPhoto via Getty Images

Global lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic could lead to millions of people contracting tuberculosis (TB) in the next few years, according to new research.

Up to 6.3 million people are expected to develop tuberculosis as cases go undiagnosed and untreated by 2025, study published by Stop TB Partnership said on Wednesday, with 1.4 million people. who are expected to die during this period.

It is expected to slow global TB efforts by at least five years, and possibly up to eight years.

“This makes me sick because (it) is completely preventable,” said Lucica Ditiu, executive director of Stop TB Partnership, by email. “We just have to keep in mind that tuberculosis, and other diseases, continue to affect and kill people every day, not just Covid-19. “

The research, which was commissioned in collaboration with Imperial College London, Avenir Health, Johns Hopkins University, and USAID, was based on a three-month lockout and an extended recovery period of 10 months as daily life returns to normal.

It was modeled on data mainly drawn from three high-incidence countries (India, Kenya and Ukraine) and extrapolated to the global level.

Tuberculosis is the “first infectious killer in the world”

The World Health Organization has recognized tuberculosis as the “first infectious killer in the world”, since 10 million people fall ill with tuberculosis each year and 1.5 million people die each year from the disease.

It is caused by bacteria and most commonly affects the lungs, according to the United Nations health agency, but TB infection and disease can be cured with antibiotics.

Since there are effective drugs to treat tuberculosis, the global response is based on testing and treating as many people as possible.

“Tuberculosis is an airborne infectious disease, so every person with undiagnosed and treated tuberculosis infects many others – so we have a snowball effect,” said Ditiu of Stop TB Partnership.

A chest x-ray that clearly shows tuberculosis in Liberia. Liberia is listed as one of the countries most affected by tuberculosis by the World Health Organization.

Sally Hayden | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Covid-19 epidemic has effectively shut down countries around the world, with many governments placing drastic restrictions on the daily lives of billions of people.

Containment measures have been implemented in 187 countries or territories in an attempt to slow the spread of the pandemic.

The restrictions, which vary in their application worldwide, but generally include school closings, bans on public gatherings and social distancing, would have made it much more difficult for health workers to test vulnerable populations and for patients to access treatment.

To recoup the gains made in recent years through increased efforts and investments in tuberculosis, the Stop TB Partnership said on Wednesday “that it is important to put in place additional measures and resources to reduce the pool of people with TB not detected. ”

“Such measures may include accelerated active case finding, as well as intensive community engagement and contact seeking to maintain awareness of the importance of recognizing and responding to symptoms suggestive of tuberculosis, using digital technology. and other tools, “said the statement.

Founded in 2001, the Stop TB Partnership is an international organization of more than 1,700 partners that aims to serve all people vulnerable to TB.

It operates through a secretariat hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Support Services (UNOPS) in Geneva, Switzerland, to accelerate progress in the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis.

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