According to a study released by the World Health Organization on Thursday, the number of TB cases worldwide increased for the first time in years.
This includes cases of the disease that are drug-resistant. More over 10 million individuals were infected with TB globally in 2021, a 4.5% increase from the previous year, according to the U.N. health agency. It claimed that 1.6 million people perished. Approximately 450,000 cases, or 3% higher than in 2020, were patients who had drug-resistant TB, according to the WHO.
When COVID-19 surfaced in 2020, according to Dr. Mel Spigelman, head of the nonprofit TB Alliance, more than ten years of work were lost.
Despite advancements in fields like preventive treatment, we still lag behind in just about everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic, according to WHO, "continues to have a negative influence on access to TB diagnosis and treatment," explaining why TB cases have increased so significantly. Prior progress has "slowed, halted, or reversed," according to the report.
Less individuals receiving a TB diagnosis means that more patients inadvertently spread the extremely contagious disease to others in outbreaks that would not have been discovered in nations with underdeveloped healthcare systems.
According to the WHO, there were 5.8 million new cases of TB in 2020, down from 7 million in 2019.
WHO said that COVID-19 limitations, such as lockdowns and physical separation rules, hindered TB treatment services and may have led some patients to avoid visiting medical facilities out of concern for contracting coronavirus.
Approximately half of all TB patients and their families experience "catastrophic overall costs" as a result of their treatment, according to officials, who also cited the global economic slump as a contributing cause. WHO urged more nations to pay for all costs associated with TB diagnosis and treatment.