The World Health Organization is concerned about the return of tuberculosis in the world

After years of decline, tuberculosis is thriving again, the Covid pandemic and confinements having limited screening and access to care, worries the World Health Organization (WHO) Thursday, October 27. It reports 1.6 million deaths worldwide last year, a return to the level of 2017. This represents an increase of more than 14% compared to 2019.

According to the WHO’s annual report, 10.6 million people fell ill in 2021 with tuberculosis – caused by a bacterium that mainly attacks the lungs – an increase of 4.5% in one year. Similarly, the incidence rate of the disease (new cases per 100,000 population per year) increased by 3.6% between 2020 and 2021, after declining by around 2% per year for most of the last two decades.

According to the WHO, “This is the first time in many years that an increase in the number of people falling ill with TB and drug-resistant TB has been reported.” The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly slowed progress in the fight against tuberculosis.

However, the organization does not lose hope, even if it estimates that tuberculosis should have continued to increase in 2022. “It’s time to end this long-killing disease. By working together, we can end TB”said the Director General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO stresses that the need for action has become even more pressing in the context of the war in Ukraine, ongoing conflicts in other parts of the world, the global energy crisis and associated risks to food security. These elements “are likely to further aggravate some of the broad determinants of TB, such as income levels and malnutrition.”

In 2019, tuberculosis was the 13th leading cause of death worldwide and the first due to an infectious disease. Since 2020, it has become the second due to an infectious disease, behind Covid-19 and before AIDS, according to the WHO report.

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