Europe saw 7,000 excess TB deaths during Covid-19 pandemic: WHO

New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) Europe saw about 7,000 additional deaths from tuberculosis (TB) in the three years of the Covid pandemic from 2020-2022, compared to pre-2020 estimates, according to a new report released on Thursday, ahead of the World TB Day — March 24.

The increased mortality was due to the disruption caused in diagnosis and treatment efforts during the pandemic, revealed the latest TB surveillance and monitoring report from the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

“Our latest report reveals a heart-breaking, entirely preventable situation — people affected by TB were not protected during the pandemic and 7,000 needlessly lost their lives because of disruptions to TB services,” said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, Regional Director at WHO/Europe, in a statement.

Importantly, the report showed successful cure in only six out of 10 TB treatments using first-line medicines — the lowest rates in a decade — as against 9 out of 10 patients infected with strains that respond to the antibiotics rifampicin and isoniazid.

“The report also reveals another evolving, preventable tragedy — the prevalence of drug-resistant TB continues to rise,” Dr Hans said, calling “national authorities to strengthen TB testing programmes, diagnoses promptly”.

The report also raised concerns about the “suboptimal” management of TB and HIV co-infection.

The report recommends “scaling up efforts to actively find and treat missing cases of TB”.

This can be achieved by boosting TB testing, improving access to preventive treatment; and implementing short, and full oral treatment regimens, the report said.



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