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COVID-19 Has Taken Resources and Attention Away from Tuberculosis

Women wait at a clinic for treatment.   ©Tobin Jones
Women wait at a clinic for treatment. ©Tobin Jones

The international response to COVID-19 has taken resources and attention away from tuberculosis (TB) and other illnesses, according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The disruption to essential services for people with TB is just one tragic example of the ways the pandemic is disproportionately affecting some of the world’s poorest people, who were already at higher risk for TB,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus.

The WHO estimates that 1.4 million fewer people received care for TB in 2020 than in 2019, according to preliminary data compiled by WHO from over 80 countries—a reduction of 21% from 2019. According to the data, the countries with the biggest relative gaps were Indonesia at 42%, South Africa at 41%, Philippines at 37%, and India at 25%.

Stated WHO’s Director-General, “These sobering data point to the need for countries to make universal health coverage a key priority as they respond to and recover from the pandemic, to ensure access to essential services for TB and all diseases.”

WHO is concerned that more than half a million more people may have died from TB in 2020 because they were unable to obtain a diagnosis.

Source: WHO report


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