2021 Global TB report: WHO

  • IASbaba
  • October 21, 2021
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2021 Global TB report: WHO

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Health

Context According to the 2021 Global TB report released recently by the World Health Organization (WHO), for the first time in over a decade, Tuberculosis (TB) deaths have increased globally.

  • WHO modelling projections suggest that the number of people developing TB and dying from the disease could be much higher in 2021 and 2022.

Key findings of the report

  • Reduced notifications: India (41%) was among the top countries which contributed most to the global reduction in TB notifications between 2019 and 2020 which is not a good sign.
    • India, along with Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%), China (8%) and 12 other countries, accounted for 93% of the total global drop in notifications.
  • Increase in cases: The WHO estimated that some 4.1 million people currently suffer from TB but had not been diagnosed with it or had not officially reported to the national authorities. This figure is up from 2.9 million in 2019.
  • Reduced provision: There was also a reduction in the provision of TB preventive treatment. Some 2.8 million people accessed this in 2020, a 21% reduction since 2019.
  • Drug-resistant TB: The number of people treated for drug-resistant TB fell by 15%.
  • Increased deaths: In 2020, more people died of TB.
  • Reasons for increase in deaths: 
    • Reallocation of Human, financial and other resources from tackling TB to COVID-19, limiting the availability of essential services. 
    • People struggled to seek care during lockdowns.

What is Tuberculosis (TB)?

  • TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.
  • Transmission: TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
  • Symptoms: Cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
  • TB is a treatable and curable disease. 
  • Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs. It is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs.
  • Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.

Initiatives by India

  • Eliminating TB by 2025: India is committed to eliminating tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the global target of 2030.
  • National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme: To align with the ambitious goal, the programme has been renamed from the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) to National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP).

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