According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus pandemic has set back the fight against tuberculosis by years.
Of just under ten million people who are estimated to have contracted tuberculosis in the past year, only 5.8 million were diagnosed with the disease, the WHO reported in Geneva today. In the previous year it was 7.1 million. The decline is due, among other things, to lockdowns and exit restrictions.
Overloading of health services was cited as another reason. In 2020, tuberculosis was the second leading cause of death from a single infectious agent after Covid-19. A good 1.5 million people died from it after 1.4 million in the previous year. The trend of a decline in new infections, which has been created over the years, has almost been stopped.
If the sick are unaware of their infection, they cannot be treated. The numbers for 2021 and 2022 are therefore likely to be even worse, according to the WHO. Expenditures for diagnosis, treatment and prevention fell in 2020 from 5.8 to 5.3 billion dollars (4.6 billion euros). That is less than half as much as would be necessary according to WHO information.