For the first time in many years, tuberculosis cases have increased: WHO
28 October, Geneva [Switzerland]: According to the World Health Organization’s 2022 Global TB report, an estimated 10.6 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) in 2021, a 4.5% increase over the previous year, and 1.6 million died as a result of the disease.
The burden of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) grew by 3% between 2020 and 2021, with 450 000 additional cases of rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (RR-TB) in 2021. According to the WHO report, this is the first time in many years that the number of people falling ill with TB and medication-resistant TB has been documented.
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 will disrupt numerous services, including TB response, but its impact on TB response has been particularly severe. Conflicts in Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East have aggravated the situation for vulnerable people.
If the epidemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can tackle major health risks with solidarity, dedication, ingenuity, and equal tool use. Let’s apply everything we’ve learned to tuberculosis. It is past time to put an end to this serial killer. We can end tuberculosis by working together, stated WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Due to ongoing difficulty in providing and obtaining essential TB services, many persons with TB were undiagnosed and untreated. According to the data, the number of people newly diagnosed with tuberculosis declined from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020. Although there was a modest recovery to 6.4 million in 2021, this was still far lower than pre-pandemic levels.
According to WHO, decreases in the reported number of people diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) suggest that the number of people with undiagnosed and untreated TB has increased, increasing TB deaths and community transmission of infection, followed by an increase in the number of people developing TB, with some lag time.
Between 2019 and 2020, the number of people receiving treatment for RR-TB and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) decreased. In 2021, the reported number of persons starting treatment for RR-TB was 161 746, accounting for only roughly one-third of those in need.
According to the report, global spending on key TB services has decreased from US$6 billion in 2019 to US$5.4 billion in 2021, which is less than half of the global target of US$13 billion annually by 2022. As in the previous ten years, the majority of funds used in 2021 (79%) came from domestic sources. International donor support remains critical in other low- and middle-income countries, according to the WHO.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is the primary source (the Global Fund). The United States Government is the largest contributor to the Global Fund and the largest bilateral donor, accounting for over half of all worldwide donor support for tuberculosis.
According to Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Program, the study offers critical new evidence and makes a strong case for uniting forces and redoubling efforts to bring the TB response back on track to reach TB targets and save lives. This will be a critical tool for nations, partners, and civil society as they assess progress and prepare for the second UN High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis, which is scheduled for 2023.