Fri, 10/16/2020 – 15:30
In its annual tuberculosis (TB) report, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the reallocation of human, financial, and other resources away from TB treatment because of the COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in fewer TB case notifications in more than 200 countries. TB notifications India, Indonesia, and the Philippines declined by 25%-30% from January to June compared with the same period in 2019. The drop in notifications is noteworthy because approximately 85% of people who are diagnosed with the disease and notified can be effectively treated with a 6-month drug regimen. According to WHO modelling estimates, if the number of TB patients who are detected and notified globally falls by 25%-50% over a 3-month period, deaths from the disease could rise by as much 400,000 this year. The WHO cited such problems as reassignment of staff from national TB programs to COVID-19–related duties, reductions in the number health care facilities treating people with TB, reduced data collection, and reallocating budgets to pay for COVID-19 efforts. Many countries are using rapid diagnostic tests normally used for TB for COVID-19 testing. The report also said drug resistance is a growing issue, with an estimated 465,000 falling ill with multidrug-resistant or rifampin-resistant TB in 2019.