In 2019, 10 million people worldwide became ill with tuberculosis. This bacterial disease is a carrier of deadly potential and usually affects the lungs predominantly. It is also noteworthy that about a quarter of the planet’s population is infected, but most of them do not have the disease in the active phase.
Infected people are at 5 to 15% risk of developing the disease. Nevertheless, in 2019, tuberculosis was considered in the top ten causes of human mortality. The latter is one of the world’s leading, deadly infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
A new report published by the organization provides more detailed information on the fight against tuberculosis. Both disease prevention and treatment are possible.
The report paints a pessimistic picture overall. Most of the infected (approximately ⅔) live in 8 countries. The following countries have the highest disease rates: India, Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa. Given that many patients carrying the infection have not yet shown clinical symptoms, they may be left without the necessary treatment. Due to such delayed therapy the disease outcome is not so benign at times.
As it turns out, TB cases decreased by 9% between 2015-2019. Nevertheless, it still lags behind the goals set by the WHO.
The general condition was further aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic. From January to June 2020, there is a noticeable decline in the statistics of diagnosed tuberculosis. Given the economic crises caused by the pandemic, the model provided by WHO predicts that over the next 5 years, the annual cases of tuberculosis will increase by 1 million if all resources are directed towards COVID-19. As we learn from the report, Georgia is one of the countries that used the financial resources allocated for tuberculosis management to fight the coronavirus pandemic. WHO notes that this financial allocation is small (less than $ 5 million), but it may increase.
Nevertheless, the new report leaves much to be desired. Funding for disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment has doubled since 2006, and 7 countries where tuberculosis was a serious social problem have managed to reduce mortality rates. Also noteworthy is the fact that tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, and at this point, they are receiving preventive treatment as often as ever.