Apart from the pandemic, the fight against TB has been chronically underfunded in the last few years.
A new report has shown that global targets for prevention and treatment of Tuberculosis (TB) will likely be missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging the world.
The 2020 global report on TB released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), on Thursday, indicates that disruptions in services caused by the pandemic have led to further setbacks in progress already made against the disease.
According to the report, global TB deaths could increase by around 0.2–0.4 million in 2020 alone, if health services are disrupted to the extent that the number of identified TB cases falls by 25–50 per cent over three months.
Many countries were making steady progress in tackling TB prior to the COVID-19 pandemic which has already infected over 38 million people worldwide, the report shows.
It said there was a 9 per cent reduction in incidents seen between 2015 and 2019 and a 14 per cent drop in deaths in the same period.
According to the report, about 10 million people fell ill from TB in 2019 and 1.4 million people died from TB-related illnesses, including 208,000 people living with HIV.
It also indicates that about 465 000 people were newly diagnosed with drug-resistant TB in 2019 and, of these, less than 40 per cent were able to access treatment.
TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.