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TB deaths rose in 2020 as covid hogged resources

India reported 1.8 million TB cases in 2020 compared to 2.4 million cases in 2019 bringing the TB treatment coverage (notified/estimated incidence) from 82% in 2019 to 63% in 2020. (HT_PRINT)Premium
India reported 1.8 million TB cases in 2020 compared to 2.4 million cases in 2019 bringing the TB treatment coverage (notified/estimated incidence) from 82% in 2019 to 63% in 2020. (HT_PRINT)

  • The report further said that India accounted for 34% of the combined total number of TB deaths. For India, the TB case fatality ratio (estimated mortality/estimated incidence) went up from 17% in 2019 to 20% in 2020, it said.

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New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic took its toll on those afflicted by tuberculosis in India, increasing the estimated death toll from the infectious lung disease to 500,000 in 2020 from 445,000 in 2019, according to the World Health Organization’s 2021 Global TB report.

India accounted for 34% of the combined total number of TB deaths. The case fatality ratio (estimated mortality/ estimated incidence) rose from 17% in 2019 to 20% in 2020, according to the report released on Thursday.

The report highlighted how covid reversed years of global progress in tackling tuberculosis.

The first challenge was disruption to TB services and impact on resource availability. In several countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from tackling TB to the covid response, limiting the availability of essential services, the WHO report said. Also, people have struggled to seek care during lockdowns, it said.

The report noted that reduced access to diagnosis and treatment increased the death toll from TB. The disease caused an estimated 1.3 million deaths globally among HIV-negative people, up from 1.2 million in 2019, and an additional 214,000 deaths among HIV-positive people, rising from 209,000 in 2019, with the combined returning to the level of 2017.

Ten countries accounted for 74% of the global gap between estimated TB incidence and the number of people newly diagnosed with the disease and reported cases.

The top three contributors were India, Indonesia and the Philippines (24%, 11% and 8.3%, respectively).

India also featured in all three WHO global lists of high-burden countries for TB, HIV-associated TB and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)/rifampicin-resistant TB (RR-TB) to be used by the WHO for 2021-25.

The most obvious impact of the pandemic on TB services is the large global drop in the number of people newly diagnosed with TB and reported in 2020, compared with 2019. There was a 18% drop between 2019 and 2020 from 7.1 million to 5.8 million.

India contributed the most to the global decline between 2019 and 2020 (41% drop), followed by Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%) and China (8%). These and a dozen other nations accounted for 93% of the total drop of 1.3 million.

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