The World Health Organization noted that the death toll from this disease rose for the first time in a decade during the Covid-19 pandemic. The health emergency monopolized the resources and medicines previously destined for this ailment and others, so many cases have not even been diagnosed.
A colossal setback in the fight against tuberculosis. The diversion of resources to address the health crisis due to Covid-19, mainly in countries without resources and where tuberculosis is the first source of mortality, are among the first causes of the increase in deaths from this disease in 2020.
Following the pandemic, the World Health Organization estimates that there are 4.1 million people without an official diagnosis of tuberculosis, an increase of almost 3 million compared to 2019 figures.
For this ailment, caused by a germ that usually affects the lungs, there are treatments and the disease is curable.
Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, director of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Program, stated that “this year’s global report on tuberculosis shows that Covid-19 seriously affected our fight” against this disease. “For the first time in the last decade, we can see an increase in deaths from tuberculosis. 1.5 million people died of tuberculosis last year, including more than 200,000 people with HIV, ”he added.
According to the organization, the administration of preventive treatments decreased by 21% worldwide.
300,000 more deaths from tuberculosis in 2020
The report details that in 2020, of the 1.5 million deaths from tuberculosis, 214,000 were people with HIV, a figure higher than in 2019, with 1.2 million deaths and 209,000 with HIV, numbers that had not been recorded since 2017, states the WHO.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “this report confirms our fears that the disruption of basic health services due to the pandemic could reduce the years of progress against tuberculosis to nothing.”
In 2020, the official number of tuberculosis patients fell from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million last year. However, more than encouraging, this figure worries specialists, since it responds to the lack of diagnoses due to the sanitary blockade.
The countries that register the decrease in the report of new tuberculosis cases were India (41%), Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%) and China (8%). These and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total decline in global TB notifications between 2019 and 2020.
The global budget to fight tuberculosis decreases
Global confinement limited access for patients with other illnesses to hospital care facilities; Health personnel and financial and technical resources were mobilized to cover the effects of the pandemic, causing the neglect of other diseases.
The global reduction in funding for tuberculosis diagnosis, treatment and prevention fell from $ 5.8 billion to $ 5.3 billion in 2020, less than half the global funding target of $ 13 billion. that are required to fully fund the response to the disease.
This increase in deaths puts at risk the progress of the WHO in reducing mortality from the disease by 90% and the incidence rate of tuberculosis by 80% by 2030, compared to 2015.
The NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) denounced that the reduction in diagnoses and the detection of new cases of tuberculosis are due to problems on the side of the diagnostic services that depend on the GeneXpert test, manufactured by the American company Cepheid, which received investments $ 250 million to develop and supply this technology and is charging high prices to low-income countries.
“We ask Cepheid and other manufacturers of tuberculosis tests to help meet the test requirements by making them cheaper and adapted to the needs of the countries,” said Doctors Without Borders.
With AP, EFE, AFP