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Covid-19 has reversed years of progress in the fight against TB, says WHO

Geneva: Commemorating World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) today noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight to end TB. World Tuberculosis Day is observed every year on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

“Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 66 million lives since the year 2000. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight to end TB. For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020,” WHO said in a statement.

Today’s date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium which causes TB, which opened the way to diagnosing and curing this disease.

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“Tuberculosis was the top infectious disease killer before Covid, and will remain after. This should not be acceptable to any of us. We need to invest in better tools, data, health services, awareness, reduce stigma, provide social support – in other words, multi-sectoral action,” said Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at WHO.

The Covid-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight to end TB. For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020

WHO statement

“Each day, over 4100 people lose their lives to TB and close to 28,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease”, the WHO has said in a tweet to mark World Tuberculosis Day.

In a statement posted on its website, WHO has said: “The theme of World TB Day 2022 – ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives’ – conveys the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB and achieve the commitments to end TB made by global leaders. This is especially critical in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic that has put End TB progress at risk, and to ensure equitable access to prevention and care in line with WHO’s drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.”

Agencies

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