Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries were making steady progress in tackling tuberculosis (TB), with a 9 percent reduction in incidence seen between 2015 and 2019 and a 14 percent drop in deaths in the same period.
High-level political commitments at global and national levels were delivering results, WHO (the World Health Organization) stated.
However, a new report from WHO shows that access to TB services remains a challenge, and that global targets for prevention and treatment will likely be missed without urgent action and investments.
Approximately 1.4 million people died from TB-related illnesses in 2019. Of the estimated 10 million people who developed TB that year, some three million were not diagnosed with the disease, or were not officially reported to national authorities.
The situation is even more acute for people with drug-resistant TB.
About 465,000 people were newly diagnosed with drug-resistant TB in 2019 and, of these, less than 40 percent were able to access treatment.
There has also been limited progress in scaling up access to treatment to prevent TB, WHO reported.
“Equitable access to quality and timely diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care remains a challenge,” Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Accelerated action is urgently needed worldwide if we are to meet our targets by 2022,” he added.
About 14 million people were treated for TB in the period 2018-2019, just over one-third of the way towards the five-year target (2018-2022) of 40 million, according to the report.
Some 6.3 million people started TB preventive treatment in 2018-2019, about one-fifth of the way towards the five-year target of 30 million.
Funding is a major issue. In 2020, funding for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care reached 6.5 billion U.S. dollars, representing only half of the 13 billion U.S. dollars target agreed by world leaders in the U.N. Political Declaration on TB.
Reporting by Indonesia Window