According to WHO tuberculosis death is set to increase as the covid-19 lockdown continues.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned against a “dramatic increase” in tuberculosis (TB) deaths in the years to come, due to the disorder as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and a progressing scarcity of funds in its annual statement on global undertakings to fight the disease.

The WHO explained that there were “significant reductions” in the reporting and observing of new TB cases in the first half of 2020, as countries compelled lockdowns to inhibit the spread of COVID-19.

Three “high burden countries” – India, Indonesia and the Philippines – documented a decline of between 25 and 30 percent in case reports over the six months to June 2020 compared with the same period last year.

These three countries are furthermore among the nations with the highest occurences of coronavirus in the world.

“These reductions in case notifications could lead to a dramatic increase in additional TB deaths, according to WHO modelling,” the report said.

TB is assumed as the world’s most deadly infectious disease which is caused by a bacteria that most often affect the lungs, and can circulate easily.

While a calculated 14 million people were treated for TB between 2018 to 2019, they embody only about a third of the 40 million that the UN agency hopes to treat by 2022.

The WHO reported that although the occurrence of the disease dropped nine percent between 2015 and 2019 and fatalities reduced by 14 percent during the same period, over 1.4 million people still died from tuberculosis in 2019.

“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind the gains made over recent years,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“Accelerated action is urgently needed worldwide if we are to meet our targets,” he said.

This year, funds brought up for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care only amounted to $6.5bn – half of the $13bn target decided by world leaders in the UN Political Declaration against TB.

Without serious action and investments, global targets for prevention and treatment are prone to be missed.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) explained that it was “disheartening” to see that governments worldwide were not on track to attain testing and treatment goals for the disease.

“TB has remained a burden throughout the course of human history, so isn’t it about time that governments got more serious about tackling this killer disease,” said Sharonann Lynch, MSF’s senior adviser on TB and HIV-AIDS.

“With COVID-19 causing backtracking on TB testing, governments need to come up with a catch-up plan. Time’s up for excuses.”


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