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WHO calls for urgent collaboration to end TB

Words by GOLD newsdesk

The World Health Organization (WHO) has redoubled its message for the global community to urgently join together to get the tuberculosis (TB) response back on track to reach targets and save lives after prevalence increased in 2021.

Outlined in its 2022 Global TB report, the WHO revealed that 10.6 million people fell ill with TB in 2021 – an increase of 4.5% since 2020 – and 1.6 million people died from the condition. In addition, the burden of drug-resistant TB increased by 3% between 2020 and 2021, with 450 000 new cases of rifampicin-resistant TB reported in 2021. This is the first time in many years an increase has been reported in the number of people falling ill with TB and drug-resistant TB.

The WHO has highlighted the COVID-19 pandemic as having a particularly severe impact on the TB response worldwide, with access to services being disrupted and a decline in global spending.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that with solidarity, determination, innovation and the equitable use of tools, we can overcome severe health threats. Let’s apply those lessons to tuberculosis. It is time to put a stop to this long-time killer. Working together, we can end TB,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO.

The report reiterates the call for countries to put in place urgent measures to restore access to essential TB services. It further calls for increased investments, multisectoral action to address the broader determinants that influence TB epidemics and their socioeconomic impact as well as the need for new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.

Commenting on the report, Charlie Weller, Head of Prevention, Wellcome, said: “World leaders have committed to ending the TB epidemic by 2030. But to achieve this goal, the global community must take action now, and commit real financial and political will to track, treat and stop TB from spreading. If we want to reverse this trend and prevent further deaths and disease from one of the world’s most devastating diseases, investment in its research and development is crucial.”

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