LONDON (Reuters) – The COVID-19 pandemic is derailing global efforts to tackle tuberculosis (TB), the world’s deadliest infectious disease, with cases likely to rise without urgent action and investment, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
The WHO’s annual TB report found that tuberculosis killed some 1.4 million people in 2019, little changed from the 1.5 million deaths it caused in 2018. It warned that many countries are not on track to meet targets for successfully diagnosing and treating cases to try to stop the disease’s spread.
Disruptions in services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to major setbacks to TB programmes, the report found. In many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from TB to the COVID-19 response.
“Accelerated action is urgently needed worldwide if we are to meet our targets,” the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement with the report.