The Covid-19 pandemic reversed years of global progress in the fight against tuberculosis And, for the first time in more than a decade, deaths from tuberculosis have risen, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB 2021 report.
In 2020, more people died from tuberculosis, far fewer people were diagnosed and treated or received preventive treatment TB compared to 2019, and overall spending on essential TB services decreased.
The first challenge is to restart access to TB services that was interrupted during the pandemic with dwindling resources. In many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from fighting tuberculosis to responding to Covid-19, limiting the availability of essential services. And the second challenge is serving the people who have sought care during the health emergency.
“This report confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could destroy years of progress against tuberculosis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This is alarming news that should serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investment and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease. ».
1.5 million deaths
Approximately 1.5 million people died of tuberculosis in 2020 (including 214,000 among HIV positive people).
The increase in the number of deaths occurred mainly in the 30 countries with the highest tuberculosis burden. WHO model projections suggest that the number of people who develop tuberculosis and die from the disease could be much higher in 2021 and 2022.
Diagnoses also plummeted. In 2020, notifications from national governments decreased from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020. India (41%), Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%) and China (8%) were the countries that further reduced their diagnoses. These and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total global drop in notifications.
There was also a reduction in the provision of preventive tuberculosis treatment. Approximately 2.8 million people accessed this service in 2020, a reduction of 21% from 2019. In addition, the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis fell by 15%, from 177,000 in 2019 to 150,000 in 2020, which equates to only about 1 in 3 of those in need.