-Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia Have Successful Stories.
By Insight Post Uganda
As the world continues grappling with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Report has unveiled a stark reality – tuberculosis (TB), a disease that has plagued humanity for millennia, is still a major global health concern.
The report reveals that 7.5 million people were diagnosed with TB in 2022, marking the highest figure ever recorded since the WHO began global monitoring in 1995. This alarming increase in TB cases underscores the critical need for urgent action in the fight against this infectious disease.
TB, primarily a respiratory infection, is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium that spreads through the air when infected individuals cough, sneeze, or even spit. Despite being both preventable and curable, it remains a persistent threat to global public health.
The surge in TB diagnoses in 2022 can be attributed to improved access to healthcare services. The WHO report draws on data from 192 nations and highlights a notable recovery in access to and the provision of health services.
Countries like India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, which had collectively accounted for over 60% of the global reduction in new TB diagnoses in 2020 and 2021, showed significant improvements in their TB diagnosis rates in 2022, surpassing the levels seen in 2019.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, stressed the remarkable progress in the fight against TB.
Ghebreyesus further pointed out that TB had afflicted previous generations without the knowledge, tools, or political commitment to combat it effectively.
Today, the world possesses the necessary knowledge and resources to write the final chapter in the story of TB. It is a unique opportunity that no previous generation in history has had, offering a chance to eradicate this ancient scourge.
“For millennia, our ancestors have suffered and died with tuberculosis, without knowing what it was, what caused it, or how to stop it. Today, we have knowledge and tools they could only have dreamed of. We have political commitment, and we have an opportunity that no generation in the history of humanity has had: the opportunity to write the final chapter in the story of TB,” he explained.
Global TB Statistics
Globally, an estimated 10.6 million people fell ill with TB in 2022, a slight increase from the previous year’s 10.3 million cases. The majority of cases were concentrated in the WHO Regions of Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Western Pacific, which accounted for nearly 90% of all TB cases. Smaller proportions were reported in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Americas, and Europe.
The report also noted that the total number of TB-related deaths, including those among individuals with HIV, stood at 1.3 million in 2022, down from 1.4 million the year before.
However, the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in nearly half a million additional TB-related deaths between 2020 and 2022, with TB remaining the leading cause of death among people living with HIV.
Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) remains a significant public health crisis. In 2022, an estimated 410,000 people developed MDR-TB or another type that is resistant to the antibiotic rifampicin (MDR/RR-TB). Shockingly, only two in five of these individuals had access to treatment.
Challenges and Constraints in TB Control
While there is some progress in the development of new TB diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines, the overall level of investment in these areas remains a significant constraint, according to the WHO.
The fight against TB has saved over 75 million lives since 2000, but further action is needed as it remained the world’s second leading infectious killer in 2022, following COVID-19.
Despite the notable recovery in 2022, the progress has fallen short of the global targets set in 2018, with pandemic-related disruptions and ongoing conflicts playing significant roles. For instance, the net decrease in TB-related deaths from 2015 to 2022 was only 19%, far from the goal of a 75% reduction by 2025.
From Commitment to Action
To address these challenges and chart a path towards eliminating TB, the international community reinforced the commitments made in 2018 and set new targets during a meeting held in September during the UN General Assembly’s High-Level Week. These new targets include:
Reaching 90% of people in need with TB prevention and care services.
Using a WHO-recommended rapid test as the primary method of diagnosis.
Providing all TB patients with a comprehensive health and social benefits package.
Ensuring the availability of at least one new, safe, and effective TB vaccine.
Closing funding gaps to support the fight against TB.
The report underscores that ending the global TB epidemic requires translating these commitments into concrete actions. TB remains a pressing global health issue, and renewed efforts are vital to control its spread and ultimately eradicate it.
The 2022 WHO Global Tuberculosis Report serves as a call to action, urging governments, healthcare organizations, and communities worldwide to join forces in the battle against this ancient and preventable disease.
The progress in lowering the mortality rates attributed to TB varies significantly from one country to another (as shown in Figure 18).
By the year 2022, a total of 47 nations had achieved or exceeded the initial benchmark set by the End TB Strategy, resulting in an estimated decrease of at least 35% in TB-related deaths since 2015.
This achievement spanned across all WHO regions, with several countries even managing to accomplish reductions of 50% or more between 2015 and 2022.
Notably, among these success stories are five countries with a high TB burden, namely Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.