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1.4 million people lost to treatment for tuberculosis during the first year of COVID-19

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Geneva — The United Nations Health Agency said on Monday that COVID-19 reduced the number of people requiring treatment for tuberculosis (TB) in 2020 by an estimated 1.4 million compared to the previous year.

The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) in more than 80 countries show that in the first year of the pandemic, treatment was reduced by 21% compared to 2019.

The biggest differences were Indonesia (down 42%), South Africa (41%), Philippines (37%) and India (25%).

“The disruption of essential services for tuberculosis patients is just one of the tragic examples of a pandemic affecting the poorest people in the world who are already at high risk of tuberculosis disproportionately,” said WHO Executive Director. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyes said.

Universal care priorities

“These cool data need to make universal health an important priority as the country recovers in response to a pandemic to ensure access to services essential to tuberculosis and all illnesses. It shows that. “

Tuberculosis remains one of the deadliest infectious murderers in the world. Every day, nearly 4,000 people die of tuberculosis and nearly 28,000 are sick with this preventable and curable disease. Global efforts to combat it have saved an estimated 63 million lives since 2000.

Prior to World Tuberculosis Day on Wednesday, March 24, WHO noted that some countries have already taken steps to avoid the effects of the new coronavirus on the provision of TB services.

Successful policies include expanding the use of digital technologies such as computer-aided diagnosis on chest x-rays. This is especially beneficial in countries where there is a shortage of sufficiently trained radiologists. We also provide remote advice and support, home tuberculosis prevention, and care.

10 million people infected annually

Despite these innovations, many people with preventable illnesses still do not have access to the care they need. Globally, about 10 million people suffer from tuberculosis each year.

“WHO fears that more than 500,000 people will die of tuberculosis in 2020 just because they were not diagnosed,” WHO said, adding that this is by no means a new problem. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the gap between the estimated number of people developing tuberculosis each year and the annual number of people officially diagnosed with the virus was about 3 million.

“The pandemic has made the situation much worse,” said the United Nations Health Agency.

Recommended procedure

In a new recommendation to help health authorities address the issue, WHO prompted systematic TB screening for the following groups: families and close contact with tuberculosis patients, people living with HIV, prisons and camps. People, people exposed to silica (mainly miners).

Community screening benefits vulnerable groups with restricted access to health care, such as poor urban communities, homeless communities, migrants, refugees, remote isolated communities, and other vulnerable and marginalized groups. WHO claimed that.

Further drug innovation means that healthcare professionals need to encourage patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis to adopt new, shorter, completely oral medical regimens that no longer have injectable components. ..

This short regimen is 9-11 months long, and “studies have shown that patients are easier to complete the regimen when compared to long regimens that last up to 20 months,” WHO said. Says. — UN News

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