Tuberculosis cases explode due to Covid epidemic

Tuberculosis cases explode due to Covid epidemic
Tuberculosis cases explode due to Covid epidemic

FLÉAU – Due to the mobilization of healthcare teams on the Covid-19 front, the difficulties of access to care and the decline in budgets allocated to the fight against the disease, the number of cases of tuberculosis is increasing dangerously around the world, worries the WHO.

The editorial staff of LCI (with AFP) – 2021-10-14T18:37:19.025+02:00

This is the first time in more than ten years that tuberculosis-related deaths are on the rise again, warns the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday, October 14. In question, the disruption of health services due to the Covid-19 epidemic, which wiped out years of the fight against tuberculosis. And the situation seems far from improving because a growing number of people do not know they have the disease, which can be treated and cured, worries the institute in its annual report on tuberculosis which covers on 2020.

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This would be around 4.1 million people with tuberculosis who have not been diagnosed or have not been officially declared, a figure up sharply from the 2.9 million in 2019. This infectious disease is caused by a Mycobacterium, the tubercle bacillus, which is transmitted through the air, most often affects the lungs and is fatal if not properly treated.

An infected person is not necessarily sick, since the infection can remain in the form of “latent” in the body without the appearance of symptoms or the possibility of infecting other people. The disease declares itself in only 10% of cases, several months or even years after the contamination, indicates the site of the Ministry of Health. The risk of contracting the infection decreases over time and is therefore particularly high in young children.

As many tuberculosis-related deaths in 2020 as in 2017

People living with HIV are also vulnerable to this disease, since “HIV infection is the most important risk factor for the progression from tuberculosis infection to active tuberculosis”, specifies the site of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS, also called UNAIDS.

According to the WHO report, last year there were 214,000 deaths from tuberculosis among HIV-positive patients and 1.3 million deaths among other patients (compared to 1.2 million in 2019), compared to 209,000 respectively. and 1.2 million in 2019. That is a total of some 1.5 million deaths over the past year, an increase compared to the 1.4 million deaths in 2019, and which is modeled on that of 2017. A worrying flashback for the WHO, whose projections predict that the number of people developing tuberculosis and dying from the disease could still be “much higher in 2021 and 2022”.

“This report confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could begin to undo years of progress against tuberculosis.”, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, in a statement. And to add: “This is alarming news that should serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need to invest and innovate to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for millions of people. people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease. “

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More than a million fewer diagnoses compared to 2019

This increase in deaths jeopardizes the WHO strategy which aims to reduce the deaths due to the disease by 90% and the incidence rate of tuberculosis by 80% compared to 2015, by 2030. In addition to the confinements that have complicated patient access to healthcare centers, the fight against Covid-19 has also monopolized healthcare staff as well as technical resources and expenses throughout 2020.

The number of people newly diagnosed and declared tuberculosis by the authorities thus fell to 5.8 million in 2020, against 7.1 million in 2019, which represents a drop of 18% compared to the 2012 level. Notifications of cases of tuberculosis infection fell the most between 2019 and 2020 include India, Indonesia, the Philippines and China. Along with 12 other countries, they accounted for 93% of the total global drop in notifications.

The supply of preventive treatment for tuberculosis has also suffered: some 2.8 million people had access to it in 2020, 21% less than the previous year. In addition, the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis has also fallen by 15%, so that only about one in three of those in need have accessed such care.

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At the same time, budgets for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the disease have also declined worldwide, from $ 5.8 billion to $ 5.3 billion in one year. This is less than half of the global target set at $ 13 billion per year by 2022 to finance the fight against the disease.

France had 5,116 cases declared in 2019, an incidence rate of 7.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to Public Health France. The most affected departments are Île-de-France, Guyana and Mayotte.

LCI editorial staff (with AFP)

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