WHO fears more deaths from tuberculosis as COVID-19 pandemic continues | News


The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a “dramatic increase” in tuberculosis (TB) deaths in the coming years, due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a shortage continues to fund in its annual report on global efforts to fight the disease.The WHO said there had been “significant reductions” in reporting and tracking new TB cases in the first half of 2020, as countries imposed lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Three “high burden countries” – India, Indonesia and the Philippines – reported a 25 to 30 percent drop in case notifications in the six months ending June 2020 compared to the same period l last year.

The three countries are also among the countries with the highest incidences of coronavirus in the world.

“These reductions in case notifications could lead to a dramatic increase in additional deaths from tuberculosis, according to WHO modeling,” the report said.

Tuberculosis is considered the deadliest infectious disease in the world. It is caused by bacteria that most often affect the lungs and can spread easily.

While an estimated 14 million people were treated for tuberculosis between 2018 and 2019, they represent only about a third of the 40 million the UN agency hopes to treat by 2022.

“Accelerated action is needed”

The WHO noted that although the incidence of the disease fell 9% between 2015 and 2019, and deaths fell by 14% during the same period, more than 1.4 million people still died. tuberculosis in 2019.

Now the coronavirus pandemic is hampering the fight against tuberculosis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind the gains made in recent years,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Accelerated action is urgently needed around the world if we are to achieve our goals,” he said.

One of the most pressing challenges in the fight against tuberculosis is funding, according to the WHO.

This year, funds raised for tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care reached just $ 6.5 billion, half of the $ 13 billion target agreed by world leaders in the United Nations Political Declaration Against Tuberculosis.

Without urgent action and investment, the global targets for prevention and treatment may be missed.

Tuberculosis is preventable and curable, and according to WHO data, about 85 percent of those who develop the disease can be successfully treated with a six-month drug regimen. Treatment also limits the transmission of infection.

Since 2000, anti-tuberculosis treatment has prevented more than 60 million deaths, he said.

Although the incidence of tuberculosis fell 9% between 2015 and 2019 and deaths fell by 14% during the same period, more than 1.4 million people still died from the disease in 2019 [File: Sanjay Bain/EPA]

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said it was “disheartening” that governments around the world were not on track to meet targets for screening and treating the disease.

“Tuberculosis has remained a burden throughout human history, so isn’t it time for governments to take the fight against this deadly disease more seriously,” said Sharonann Lynch, senior advisor to MSF on tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS.

“With COVID-19 causing a rollback on TB screening, governments must develop a catch-up plan. It’s time to find excuses.


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