1.6 million people died from TB Globally in 2021; Burden of drug-resistance rising: WHO Report | The Financial Express

1.6 million people died from TB Globally in 2021; Burden of drug-resistance rising: WHO Report

The report notes a decline in global spending on essential TB services from US$6 billion in 2019 to US$5.4 billion in 2021, which is less than half of the global target of US$13 billion annually by 2022.

1.6 million people died from TB Globally in 2021; Burden of drug-resistance rising: WHO Report
At the same news briefing, Berkley said he expected demand for COVID-19 vaccines to remain strong in 2023. (File)

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday revealed that an estimated 10.6 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) in 2021 and 1.6 million people died from Tuberculosis including 187 000 among HIV positive people.

According to the World Health Organization’s 2022 Global TB report released on Thursday, there was an increase of 4.5 percent in TB cases from 2020.

The global health agency in its new report also revealed that the burden of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) also increased by 3 percent between 2020 and 2021, with 450 000 new cases of rifampicin-resistant TB (RR-TB) in 2021.

This is the first time in many years an increase has been reported in the number of people falling ill with TB and drug-resistant TB, as per WHO.

According to WHO, eight countries accounted for more than two-thirds of the global total: India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, TB services and the response were severely affected. Moreover, WHO has also emphasised that the ongoing conflicts across Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East have further exacerbated the situation for vulnerable populations.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that with solidarity, determination, innovation and the equitable use of tools, we can overcome severe health threats. Let’s apply those lessons to tuberculosis. It is time to put a stop to this long-time killer. Working together, we can end TB,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General in a statement.

Meanwhile, the reported number of people newly diagnosed with TB fell from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020. There was a partial recovery to 6.4 million in 2021, but this was still well below pre-pandemic levels.

“The most obvious and immediate impact was a large global drop in the reported number of people newly diagnosed with TB. From a peak of 7.1 million in 2019, this fell to 5.8 million in 2020 (–18%), back to the level last seen in 2012. In 2021, there was a partial recovery, to 6.4 million (the level of 2016–2017). The three countries that accounted for most of the reduction in 2020 were India, Indonesia, and the Philippines (67% of the global total). They made partial recoveries in 2021 but still accounted for 60% of the global reduction compared with 2019,” WHO stated on Thursday.

According to WHO, reductions in the reported number of people diagnosed with TB suggest that the number of people with undiagnosed and untreated TB has grown, resulting first in an increased number of TB deaths and more community transmission of infection and then, with some lag-time, increased numbers of people developing TB.

Futhermore, the number of people provided with treatment for RR-TB and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) has also declined between 2019 and 2020. The reported number of people started on treatment for RR-TB in 2021 was 161 746, only about one in three of those in need.

The report notes a decline in global spending on essential TB services from US$6 billion in 2019 to US$5.4 billion in 2021, which is less than half of the global target of US$13 billion annually by 2022.

“The report provides important new evidence and makes a strong case on the need to join forces and urgently redouble efforts to get the TB response back-on-track to reach TB targets and save lives. This will be an essential tool for countries, partners, and civil society as they review progress and prepare for the 2nd UN High-Level Meeting on TB mandated for 2023,” said Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme in a statement.

The report also revealed that 26.3 million people were treated for TB between 2018 and 2021, still far short of the 40 million targets set for 2018–2022 at the UN High-Level Meeting on TB.

Meanwhile, TB preventive treatment for people living with HIV has far surpassed the global target of 6 million in the period 2018-2022, reaching more than 10 million in only 4 years.

“Seven countries – India, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe – collectively accounted for 82 percent of those started on preventive treatment in 2021,” WHO stated on Thursday.

However, India along with Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines accounted for most of the estimated increase in TB deaths globally.

WHO also found that there has been increased access to shorter (1–3 months) rifamycin-based regimens for TB preventive treatment. In 2021, 185 350 people in 52 countries were reported to have been treated with rifapentine-containing regimens, up from 25 657 in 37 countries in 2020, it stated.

Tuberculosis, caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is a potentially serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs. India continues to have the largest share of the global TB burden. In 2021, the country reported 2,950,000 TB cases, 54,000 HIV-positive TB incidence, and 494,000 deaths.

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First published on: 28-10-2022 at 11:06 IST