The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the fight against tuberculosis

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The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the fight against tuberculosis







© KEYSTONE/FABRICE COFFRINI


The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the fight against tuberculosis and the progress planned for 2020 will not be achieved. Resources have been reallocated in many countries to efforts against Covid, the WHO said in a report released Wednesday in Geneva.

According to reports from over 200 states, notifications of tuberculosis cases have declined significantly. The decline even reached as much as 25 to 30% from January to June in the three most affected countries, compared to the same period last year.

This situation could lead to “a significant increase” in deaths linked to this pathology, insists the World Health Organization (WHO). Even though 400,000 have already been observed this year, the head of the WHO’s global tuberculosis program, Tereza Kasaeva, told reporters.

However, some countries have decided on measures to reduce the impact, such as the extension of infection control. Online services were also carried out in 108 of them, including 21 with a high incidence of tuberculosis.

Home or preventive care has also been encouraged to reduce visits to health centers. “States, civil society and other partners have come together” to guarantee both tuberculosis and Covid services for those in need, Kasaeva said.

Millions of cases mentioned

According to her, the devices that had been launched before the coronavirus pandemic have shown their importance in limiting the effects of it. They also helped identify cases. WHO is monitoring coinfections between the pathology and the coronavirus.

A “negative effect” of Covid was observed in those who were affected. More broadly, the countries which are more successful are those which have made the fight against tuberculosis an important component and which have increased funding.

Last year, nearly 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis-related diseases. Of the 10 million new cases, an estimated 3 million have not been diagnosed or officially reported to national health authorities.

Efforts to accelerate

The number of these has fallen by around 9% in recent years and deaths have fallen by almost 15%. But these figures remain insufficient, compared to the wish that had been established for this year, towards the goal of eliminating tuberculosis by 2030.

Another indication, around 465,000 people with drug-resistant tuberculosis were diagnosed last year. More than 30% of them only had access to care. Almost all new cases are observed in around 30 countries.

Like UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres before him in his 10 recommendations on this issue, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calls for accelerating efforts both on diagnostics and on prevention and on care. This year, only half of the $ 13 million identified by world leaders in their Political Declaration on Tuberculosis has been raised.

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