hero image

Despite the essential treatment for tuberculosis present for 60 years, the disease still stands as the main cause of death from one transmissible agent. Even though COVID-19 ranked above TB as a killer disease, tuberculosis has now risen to the first position two years later.  

A reason for this could be because of the coinfection of HIV existing among tuberculosis patients. It is a common case in African countries and with the rise of MDR-XDR Tuberculosis. Before this, deaths caused by tuberculosis had been gradually decreasing since 2005. COVID lockdown resulted in less treatment of tuberculosis too between 2019 and 2021.

 Programs set in place to eradicate TB sat derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic bringing about a global lockdown. One of the places largely affected by this was Africa. In addition, there were preventive measures for COVID-19 which coincidentally assisted in preventing TB, such as wearing masks. However, the preventive measures were not holistic in preventing TB as they focused only on COVID-19. More so, the programs created to avoid and treat TB became dysfunctional, resulting in three drawbacks.

There were more reported  TB cases globally in 2021 than in 2020. The latter year had 10.6 million patients, rising from 9.9 million in the former year.

More reported tuberculosis deaths

There were more reported TB deaths in 2021, up from 2020 and 2019. In 2021 the deaths caused by tuberculosis were 1.6 million compared to 1.5 million and 1.4 million in 2020 and 2019, respectively. In addition, 25 percent of TB deaths resulting worldwide occur in Africa alone, with 16 percent of the global population.

Global expenditure on tuberculosis

The global expenditure on tuberculosis treatment and related services dropped from $6.0 billion to $5.4 billion from 2021 to 2019. Other than COVID-19 causing this disruption, the Ukraine invasion by Russia didn’t make matters easier. The war damaged health facilities, and many people were displaced internally. Such events led to African TB programs losing global funds.

The initial step in rectifying the situation is identifying the milestones achievable. These milestones should reduce the number of cases and the number of deaths. After that, a call for increased allocated funds and resources in delivering TB services. In addition, identifying groups at high risk of infection, strengthening community-based services, and providing drugs and other supplies should be on top of the list.