Tuberculosis may have claimed an extra 500,000 lives in 2020 because of the lack of TB diagnosis and care, according to a new WHO report published ahead of World TB Day today.
The findings detail just how much TB care has been lost because of the pandemic across 80 countries. Predictably, the poorest populations have seen the biggest gaps, UN News reports.
- 1.4 million fewer people received the TB care they needed in 2020 compared to the year before
- Every day, almost 4,000 people die from the disease, and some 28,000 are diagnosed.
The Way Forward: WHO stresses the importance of universal health care to fill gaps in care.
Harvard’s Jennifer Furin and McGill’s Madhukar Pai propose “the Swiss cheese model for ending TB,” which, fittingly, focuses on filling in holes.
“Our model highlights the need for tackling the societal issues associated with TB as well as health systems and personal factors,” they write in The Telegraph.
While TB has been sidelined by COVID-19, making the investments to fight both diseases in tandem is a “win-win” despite the strain on budgets, says Joanne Carter, vice-chair of the Stop TB Partnership board, SciDev.Net reports.
“We can’t force a false choice between fighting COVID or fighting TB.”
Remember: TB is preventable and curable, and global efforts have saved tens of millions of lives since 2000.