Tuberculosis: WHO warns of an increase in deaths in Europe – Teller Report

Published on March 24, 2023 at 7:42 p.m.

Tuberculosis: WHO warns of an increase in deaths in Europe

Tuberculosis: WHO warns of an increase in deaths in Europe – ©Yelena Afonina/TASS/Sipa USA/SIPA

This Friday, March 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of an increase in the number of deaths from tuberculosis in Europe. A first for two decades.

In 2019, tuberculosis was the 13e cause of death worldwide and the first due to an infectious disease. Since 2020, it has been in second position behind Covid-19 and before AIDS. After two decades of uninterrupted decline, the number of deaths caused by tuberculosis is increasing in Europe. This Friday, March 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of this increasing figure. An increase which is, according to the organization, due to a relaxation of diagnoses during the confinements linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as to the spread of tuberculosis resistant to an antibiotic indicated against the disease.

A first for more than 20 years

“The increase in the number of TB deaths we are seeing in 2021 is most likely the consequence of delayed or missed TB diagnosis due to disruption of services (…) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Covid-19,” the WHO told AFP. While 27,000 people died of this lung disease last year, in 2021, 300 more people will succumb to tuberculosis. Russia and Ukraine are the two most affected countries, with 4,900 and 3,600 estimated deaths respectively. Of the 53 countries in the WHO Europe zone which also includes Central Asia, 230,000 people have contracted the disease. A figure which, for its part, is down compared to previous years. In 2021, one in three cases of tuberculosis is resistant to rifampicin in 2021.

This is not the first time that the WHO has warned of this increase in the disease. Last October, she had already worried about this increase on a global scale. A first for more than 20 years. According to its data, 10.6 million people worldwide developed this infectious disease in 2021. The WHO then encouraged “to put an end to this disease which kills for a long time”. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, the director general believed that it was possible to “end tuberculosis”, by “working together”. Because if treatments exist, they are not accessible to those who need them most because they are too expensive or still in development.

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