(ORDO NEWS) — For the first time in a decade, the number of people infected with TB, including drug-resistant TB, has risen worldwide. This was reported by representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Thus, in 2021, more than 10 million people worldwide fell ill with tuberculosis. This is 4.5% more than a year earlier. At the same time, up to 1.6 million people died.
Approximately 450,000 cases of the disease are caused by drug-resistant tuberculosis, which is 3% more than in 2020.
Dr. Mel Spiegelman, president of the non-profit TB Alliance, said more than a decade of progress was lost when COVID-19 emerged in 2020.
“Despite advances in areas such as preventive therapy, we are still lagging behind on almost all TB commitments and targets,” he stressed.
The pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on access to TB diagnosis and treatment. As fewer infected people are being identified, TB is spreading more and more, especially in countries with weak health systems.
At the same time, according to WHO, the number of people who were newly diagnosed with tuberculosis decreased from 7 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.
COVID-19 restrictions, including quarantine and physical distancing, have made it difficult for the disease to spread.
But at the same time, many people refused to visit medical institutions for fear of catching the coronavirus.
Experts also believe that the slowdown in the global economy is partly to blame for about half of all TB patients and their families facing catastrophic treatment costs.
Tuberculosis is one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world. It is caused by bacteria that usually infect the lungs.
Germs are primarily transmitted from person to person through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Tuberculosis mainly affects adults, especially those who are malnourished or have other diseases. More than 95% of cases occur in developing countries.
According to the WHO, only one in three people with drug-resistant TB is receiving treatment.
“This type of infection is curable, but, alarmingly, for the first time in many years, the number of cases is increasing,” said Dr. Hannah Spencer, Médecins Sans Frontières South Africa’s spokesperson.
She called for lower prices for tuberculosis treatment so that a full course of therapy costs no more than $500.
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