Deaths due to tuberculosis have increased globally for the first time in a decade, the World Health Organization said in a report on Thursday. In its 2021 Global TB report, the health body blamed the coronavirus pandemic for reversing “years of global progress” in tackling the disease.
As many as 15 lakh people tuberculosis deaths occurred in 2020 globally, an increase from 14 lakh in 2019, according to the report.
The reallocation of human, financial and other resources from tackling tuberculosis to Covid-19 treatment was the major reason for rise in deaths due to the disease, the WHO said. The report stated that preventive treatments to patients reduced by 21% in 2019 and the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis fell by 15%.
Spending on tuberculosis prevention and treatment in 2020 fell from Rs 4.34 lakh crore to Rs. 3.97 lakh crore.
“This report [on tuberculosis deaths] confirms our fears that the disruption of essential health services due to the pandemic could start to unravel years of progress against tuberculosis,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The health body also said that nearly 41 lakh people who are suffering from tuberculosis have not been diagnosed with the disease or have not been officially reported to the authorities. India (41%) topped the list among all countries for the drop in notifying tuberculosis patients between 2019 and 2020, the report said.