Health: Corona consequences impact the fight against tuberculosis

As a result of the corona pandemic, the number of new cases of tuberculosis rose to an estimated 10.

Health: Corona consequences impact the fight against tuberculosis

As a result of the corona pandemic, the number of new cases of tuberculosis rose to an estimated 10.6 million last year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

After years of declining numbers, there was already an increase to 10.3 million new cases of the disease in 2021. This is because medical tuberculosis care has been restricted in many countries as a result of the pandemic, the WHO said in Geneva.

According to the WHO, healthcare supply failures during the pandemic years led to almost half a million additional deaths from tuberculosis.

The WHO's annual tuberculosis report also contains positive news: The number of identified diseases and treatments rose significantly again last year. This also affected deaths. In 2022, 1.3 million people died from the treatable infectious disease, around 100,000 fewer than in the previous year.

WHO: Progress too slow

However, progress is too slow to meet internationally agreed targets to combat the disease, the WHO found. Not only the ongoing after-effects of the pandemic are responsible for this, but also current armed conflicts. According to the report, deaths fell only 19 percent between 2015 and 2022, well below the 75 percent targeted by 2025.

Tuberculosis is one of the most common infectious diseases. The bacteria are transmitted by sick people through droplet infection, for example through coughing. The disease, which primarily affects the lungs, sometimes only breaks out years after the infection. Tuberculosis is preventable and treatable. Without treatment, about half of patients die.

Last year, 87 percent of new cases occurred in countries in Asia and Africa. The WHO assumes that only 2.2 percent of global cases occurred in Europe.

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