Tuberculosis is on the rise again globally for the first time in a decade, linked to disruptions in access to healthcare because of the Covid pandemic, the World Health Orgnization said. The setback has erased years of progress toward tackling the curable disease, which affects millions of people worldwide.

What

  1. This is alarming news that must serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease, WHO chief said.
  2. In its annual TB report for 2020, the WHO said progress toward eradicating the disease has been made worse thanks to a growing number of cases going undiagnosed and untreated.
  3. The organisation estimates that around 4.1 million people have tuberculosis but have not been diagnosed or officially declared, up sharply from 2.9 million in 2019.
  4. The Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation worse for people with tuberculosis, as health funds have been redirected toward tackling coronavirus and people have struggled to access care because of lockdowns.
  5. There was also a drop in the number of people seeking preventative treatment, it added, from 2.8 million people in 2020, down 21 per cent from 2019.

Flashback

  1. Tuberculosis is the second deadliest infectious disease after Covid-19, caused by bacteria that most often affect the lungs.
  2. Most TB cases occur in just 30 countries, many of them poorer nations in Africa and Asia, and more than half of all new cases are in adult men. Women account for 33 per cent of cases and children 11 per cent.
  3. India, Indonesia, the Philippines and China were the main countries that saw a drop in reported cases.