The whole world has been fighting the coronavirus pandemic for several months. However, the World Health Organization warns that this new pandemic could undo the progress made in recent years in the fight against tuberculosis, which was until then the main infectious killer.
Between 200,000 and 400,000 more dead this year
Last year, tuberculosis caused 1.4 million deaths worldwide. According to the annual report of the WHO, this lung disease could kill between 200,000 and 400,000 more deaths this year. A large increase in the number of deaths while the progress made so far was considered too slow even before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. An increase of 200,000 deaths would send us back in 2015, and an increase of 400,000 deaths would send us back to 2012.
” The Covid-19 pandemic threatens to weaken the progress made in recent years. The impact of the pandemic on TB services has been severe ”, Says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, in the report. Data collected by the United Nations Organization’s specialized agency for public health show a considerable drop in the notification of tuberculosis cases in the countries most affected by the disease in 2020.
Report points to dramatic drop in notifications in countries most affected by tuberculosis
In the case of India, the country most affected by tuberculosis, weekly and monthly notifications fell by more than 50% from the end of March to the end of April following the establishment of a lockdown. South Africa, a country also very marked by tuberculosis, also recorded a sharp drop in screening for lung disease between March and June. This can be explained by the fact that the confinement made it difficult for patients to access medical centers. ” With Covid-19 having rolled back tuberculosis screening, governments must develop a catch-up plan. The time for apologies is over », Said Sharonann Lynch, of the humanitarian association Médecins sans frontières, in response to this situation.
As a reminder, tuberculosis is a disease caused by the tuberculous bacillus. It is a contagious disease transmitted by air. It can be treated by taking antibiotics for several months. According to the WHO, her diagnosis and treatment would have saved 58 million people between 2000 and 2018. This is why it is important to go to medical centers to diagnose her.
In addition to the drop in notifications, the monopolization of medical personnel as well as the technical and financial resources of countries in the fight against Covid-19 is also a problem in the fight against tuberculosis. If measures are not put in place, the WHO estimates that three months of confinement could lead to 6 million more tuberculosis infections between 2020 and 2025.