An estimated 1.4 million fewer people received necessary care for tuberculosis (TB) during 2020 compared with the previous year, because of Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.
Latest data from the UN health agency from more than 80 countries, showed a reduction in treatment of 21 percent in the first year of the pandemic, compared with 2019, reports UN News.The biggest differences were in Indonesia (down 42 percent), South Africa (41 percent), the Philippines (37 percent) and India (25 percent). “The disruption to essential services for people with TB is just one tragic example of the ways the pandemic is disproportionately affecting some of the world’s poorest people, who were already at higher risk for TB,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“These sobering data point to the need for countries to make universal health coverage a key priority as they respond to and recover from the pandemic, to ensure access to essential services for TB and all diseases.” TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers. Each day, nearly 4,000 people die from TB and close to 28,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. Global efforts to combat it have saved an estimated 63 million lives since 2000.
Despite these innovations, many people who have the preventable disease are still unable to access the care they need. Globally, some 10 million people fall ill with TB every year.
In new recommendations to help health authorities tackle the problem, the WHO urged systematic TB screening for the following groups: household and close contacts of people with TB, people living with HIV, people in prisons and detention centres, people exposed to silica (mainly miners).