WHO reports 1.6 million deaths caused by tuberculosis in 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in its 2022 global tuberculosis (TB) report, not less than 1.6 million people died from tuberculosis infection globally 2022, including 187,000 HIV-positive people.

Also revealed in the report was that 10.6 million people were infected with tuberculosis last year, a 4.5 percent increase from the previous year.

According to the WHO report, many people with tuberculosis are not diagnosed and treated because of the challenges they face in providing and accessing essential TB services. A total of 5.8 million people were newly diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2020, a partial recovery to 6.4 million in 2021, but this is still well below pre-pandemic levels.”

Furthermore, it revealed that, for the first time in many years, there had been an increase in the number of people with tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis, especially since COVID-19 will disrupt many other services in 2021, including TB. In addition, ongoing conflicts have exacerbated the situation for vulnerable populations across Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

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The WHO, however, hailed the achievements in TB preventive treatment for HIV-positive people in Nigeria and six other countries – South Africa, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – which combined accounted for 82 percent of those starting preventive treatment in 2021.

In only four years, the number of preventive treatments has exceeded the global target of 6 million, reaching more than 10 million.

According to the report, TB is the second deadliest infectious killer (after COVID-19) and is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that usually affect the lungs.

TB burdens are primarily borne by men (56.5%), women (32.5%), and children (11%), but many new TB cases can be attributed to five risk factors: undernutrition, HIV infection, alcohol use disorders, smoking, and diabetes.

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The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that with solidarity, determination, innovation, and equitable use of tools, we can overcome severe health threats.” Let’s put those lessons to work for tuberculosis. We must work together to end tuberculosis.