Deaths from tuberculosis rise due to Covid-19 pandemic

The number of cases of people diagnosed and deaths from tuberculosis has increased during the Covid-19 pandemicThis is due to the effects that the SARS-CoV-2 infection has had on the health services that have taken years of fighting tuberculosis to such an extent that for the first time in 10 years there is this increase in the mortality.

The foregoing was released in a report by the World Health Organization, which warned that the situation does not seem to improve, since it is still many people are unaware that they have this disease for which there is an effective treatment that can cure it in most cases.

In the 2020 annual report on tuberculosis, released this Thursday, an estimated 4.1 million people have tuberculosis, but have not been diagnosed or have not been officially declared, a figure much higher than the 2.9 million in 2019.

The covid-19 pandemic It has reversed years of global progress in the fight against tuberculosis, a disease caused by a germ that often affects the lungs.

According to the report, last year there were 214,000 deaths from tuberculosis among HIV-positive people (compared to 209,000 in 2019) and 1.3 million deaths from tuberculosis among other patients (compared to 1.2 million in 2019). That is, about 1.5 million deaths in total, a figure that had not been reached since 2017, specifies the WHO.

“This report confirms our fears that the disruption of basic health services due to the pandemic could reduce years of progress against tuberculosis to nothing,” insisted Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in a statement.

“This is alarming news that should serve as a global warning signal about the urgent need to invest and innovate to bridge the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this preventable and treatable disease.” he added.

India and Indonesia

The increase in deaths jeopardizes the WHO strategy to reduce deaths from the disease by 90% and the incidence rate of tuberculosis by 80% by 2030, compared to 2015.

According to the organization’s forecasts, the number of people who develop tuberculosis and die could be “much higher in 2021 and 2022.”

There have been many negative impacts: lockdowns have complicated patient access to healthcare facilities, and the pandemic has mobilized healthcare personnel and financial and technical resources.

The number of new diagnoses and patients declared by the authorities has fallen to 5.8 million in 2020, compared to 7.1 million in 2019.
The drop in reported cases is seen above all in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and China.

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

In addition, the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis decreased by 15%, from 177,000 in 2019 to 150,000 in 2020, which is equivalent to approximately one in three who need it.

Global spending on tuberculosis diagnosis, treatment and prevention also fell, from $ 5.8 billion (€ 4.9 billion) to $ 5.3 billion (€ 4.5 billion) in 2020, less than half of the target. global financing, set at $ 13 billion (€ 11.2 billion) per year between now and 2022.

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