Tuberculosis: worrying figures from the WHO

Global tuberculosis-related deaths increased last year, for the first time in more than a decade, the World Health Organization (WHO) lamented on Thursday, estimating that years of progress in the fight against this disease have been lost due to the pandemic.

In a few years, the number of victims linked to this disease has fallen by only about 9%, far from the objectives of 35% which had been established by last year, specifies the WHO in a new report. , noting that the number of new cases relative to the entire population has decreased by 11%, less than the 20% desired. Only Europe reached 25%, indicates the same source.

Due to the pandemic, far fewer people were diagnosed, treated or taken care of in terms of prevention compared to the previous year. Spending on tuberculosis-related benefits has fallen, the report, which covers 197 states or territories, said.

In many countries, resources have been used against the coronavirus. Patients have also faced difficulties in accessing care due to the lockdowns.

Quoted by the report, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “alarmed” and called for more investment and innovation for the millions of people affected. He noted that the pandemic has disrupted care for other diseases, but less than that for tuberculosis.

In total, 1.5 million people died last year, about 100,000 more in a year. Of these, around 215,000 were infected with HIV. Most of these victims have been identified in around 30 countries with the highest burden of tuberculosis. According to forecasts, the number of victims could increase further this year and next.

Last year, the number of people newly diagnosed fell by 1.3 million to 5.8 million. According to WHO estimates, more than 4 million people have had tuberculosis without knowing it, compared to less than 3 million a year earlier.

The number of people accessing preventive care fell by 21%. And that of patients treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis fell by 15% to only a third of the needs.

Another problem is that funding remains insufficient in poor and middle-income countries, which account for almost all identified cases of the disease. Spending fell from $ 5.8 billion to $ 5.3 billion (over $ 4.8 billion), less than half of the target of $ 13 billion per year by next year.

Advances are being observed on drugs, but they are limited by the low investment in research, to 900 million dollars in 2019, far from the target of two billion, notes the WHO.

States must speed up their response to this disease, insists the director of the global tuberculosis program at the WHO, Tereza Kasaeva. A second high-level meeting is scheduled in two years.

SL (with MAP)

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