Tuberculosis deaths start to rise again due to Covid

And the situation seems far from improving as a growing number of people do not know they are suffering from the disease, which can be treated and cured, worries the World Health Organization, in its annual report. on tuberculosis for 2020.

The WHO estimates that around 4.1 million people have tuberculosis but have not been diagnosed or have not been officially declared, a figure sharply up from 2.9 million in 2019.

The Covid-19 pandemic has reversed years of global progress in the fight against tuberculosis, a disease caused by the tubercle bacillus that most commonly affects the lungs.

“Tuberculosis is the second deadliest infectious disease in the world after Covid-19, killing nearly 4,100” per day, said Tereza Kasaeva, director of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Program, in press conference.

According to the report, some 1.5 million people died in total last year, a situation that sends the world back to 2017, worries the WHO.

Among them, 214,000 were HIV positive (compared to 209,000 in 2019). The others, 1.3 million, were 100,000 more than in 2019.

“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,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said in a statement. .

“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, ”he added.

– India and Indonesia –

Rising death toll jeopardizes WHO’s strategy to reduce TB deaths by 90% and the TB incidence rate by 80% by 2030, compared to to 2015.

However, according to the organization’s projections, the number of people contracting tuberculosis and dying from this disease could be “much higher in 2021 and 2022”.

In addition to the confinements that have complicated patient access to healthcare centers, the negative impacts of the pandemic on essential tuberculosis services are numerous, the Covid-19 vampirizing healthcare staff and financial and technical resources.

The number of people newly diagnosed and declared tuberculosis by the authorities fell to 5.8 million in 2020, against 7.1 million in 2019, which represents a drop of 18% compared to the 2012 level.

The countries that have contributed the most to the global reduction in notifications of tuberculosis cases between 2019 and 2020 are India, Indonesia, the Philippines and China. These countries and 12 others accounted for 93% of the total global decline in notifications.

The supply of preventive treatment against tuberculosis has also suffered: some 2.8 million people had access to it in 2020, a reduction of 21% in one year.

In addition, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB has fallen by 15%, from 177,000 in 2019 to 150,000 in 2020, which equates to only about one in three people in need.

Global spending on tuberculosis diagnostic, treatment and prevention services also fell, from $ 5.8 billion to $ 5.3 billion.

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