In its annual report on tuberculosis, which covers 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Thursday, October 14 of the increase in deaths due to disruption of health services due to Covid-19, which kills years of fighting this disease.
The situation seems far from improving, as a growing number of people do not know they have tuberculosis, which can be treated and cured, worries the WHO. About 4.1 million people have tuberculosis but have not been diagnosed or have not been officially declared, a figure up sharply from 2.9 million in 2019.
According to the report, there were 214,000 deaths from tuberculosis among those living with HIV last year (up from 209,000 in 2019) and 1.3 million deaths from tuberculosis among other people (up from 1.2 million in 2019). That is to say a total of some 1.5 million deaths, a situation that sends the world back to 2017, worries the WHO.
“Global warning signal”
“This report confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could start to undo years of progress against tuberculosis.”, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, 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 old but preventable and treatable disease ”, he added.
→ READ. Tuberculosis, a major health problem
In addition to lockdowns, which have complicated patient access to healthcare centers, the negative impacts of the pandemic on essential tuberculosis services are numerous, with 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 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. Global spending on TB diagnostic, treatment and prevention services also fell, from $ 5.8 billion to $ 5.3 billion, less than half of the global funding target for TB. the fight against the disease which is 13 billion dollars per year by 2022.