For the first time in more than a decade, deaths from tuberculosis have increased in the world, according to a report by the World Health Organization. Although fewer cases were detected last year than a year earlier, deaths from tuberculosis have increased. At WHO, this trend is explained by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions associated with it. After all, many people did not have the opportunity to be examined or receive medical assistance.
“The report confirmed our fears that interruptions in the provision of essential health services undermine the gains made over the years in the fight against tuberculosis, ” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus. “This is very disturbing news and should prompt us to act urgently, invest and innovate. This is the only way to overcome the gaps that have arisen in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of people suffering from this ancient, but amenable to prevention and treatment of the disease. “
Interruptions in health services have not only negatively affected the fight against tuberculosis, but it is in this area that they have led to particularly serious consequences. In 2020, 1.5 million people died from the disease, including 214 thousand HIV-positive patients. The increase was mainly in countries with a high incidence of tuberculosis.
According to WHO forecasts, in 2021 and 2022, the number of those infected and dying from this disease will be much higher. Due to the pandemic in 2020, many sick people were unable to see a doctor and receive a diagnosis. This is the reason for the decrease in the number of new cases from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020. According to WHO estimates, about 4.1 million patients are currently unaware that they have tuberculosis and are not included in official statistics. In 2019, there were only 2.9 million such cases. Other indicators have also declined: for example, the number of people receiving treatment has decreased by 15 percent over the year.
Tuberculosis control programs in low- and middle-income countries, which account for 98 percent of all morbidity statistics, are underfunded. Basically, these programs are financed from the country’s own resources, but some states cannot do without support. The largest foreign donor of aid for the fight against tuberculosis is the United States. Overall, the amount of funds allocated for the fight against tuberculosis in 2020 fell from $5.8 billion in 1019 to $5.3 billion in 2020. This has further alienated humanity from the task of bringing annual expenditures in this area to $13 billion.
If we evaluate the results of the last five years, then the number of deaths from tuberculosis decreased from 2015 to 2020 by only 9.2 percent, although the goal was to reduce this figure by 35 percent. The number of new cases during the same period decreased by 11 percent, instead of the estimated 20. In contrast, the WHO European Region exceeded expectations, achieving a 25 percent reduction in tuberculosis incidence.
The negative impact of COVID-19 on programs to combat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria is also discussed in the Global Fund. Key programmatic results declined for the first time in the history of the Global Fund. According to a new report from The Global Fund, In 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB in countries where the Global Fund invests fell by 19%, while the number of people receiving treatment for drug-resistant TB fell by 37%. The number of HIV-infected tuberculosis patients receiving antiretroviral treatment as well as tuberculosis treatment decreased by 16%.