The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a rise in tuberculosis cases around the world, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, which have limited testing and access to care. The numbers of infections increased for the first time in two decades, says a report from the entity.
The WHO estimates that 10.6 million people contracted tuberculosis in 2021, an increase of 4.5% in one year. The incidence rate of the disease (new cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year) increased by 3.6% between 2020 and 2021, after having decreased by about 2% per year for much of the last two decades.
This incidence rate increased throughout the world, except in Africa, where it is feared that the figures do not reflect reality due to the disruptions suffered by health services due to the coronavirus pandemic. An estimated 1.6 million people died from the disease, caused by a bacterium that attacks the lungs, last year, 14% more than in 2019, when it killed 1.4 million human beings.
More drug-resistant cases
These estimates make tuberculosis the second deadliest infectious disease on the planet, after the 3.5 million deaths from Covid-19 last year, although it could become the first again, since deaths from coronavirus have been reduced. to just over a million in the first ten months of 2022.
Of the deceased, 187,000 were carriers of the HIV virus that causes AIDS, indicated the investigation, which also warned of a 3% increase in cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis, with 450,000 new patients suffering from the rifampicin-resistant variant. The WHO recalls that 85 percent of cases can be successfully dealt with through treatment that can last between four and six months.
Among the thirty countries most affected by this disease there are many African nations, although Brazil, China, India, North Korea and most of the countries of South and Southeast Asia also stand out.