Health Desk – 01 May, 2021: WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus held a virtual session with the members of the WHO Civil Society Task Force on Tuberculosis (CSTF-TB) in April 2021, focused on addressing the alarming global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the TB response. The meeting highlighted the need for urgent restoration of essential TB services.The far-reaching consequences of COVID-19 on access to TB services and on the determinants of TB, including poverty and food security, make it even more pertinent to adopt a multisectoral approach, with engagement of affected communities, and civil society, to stop further declines in case notifications and get on track to end TB. The session was part of the annual meeting of the CSTF-TB with all the three levels of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme (meeting report).
We the members of CSTF-TB join the WHO Director-General in this call for urgent action, noting that:
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted access to TB services and is reversing the gains made towards ending TB.
Latest data collected by WHO from more than 80 countries data indicates that 1.4 million fewer people received care for TB in 2020 than in 2019, a 21% drop in TB notifications over this period. This could lead to an additional half a million TB deaths.
Global extreme poverty will rise for the first time in over 20 years, according to the World Bank, thereby causing significant increase in undernourishment, a major determinant of TB. This will therefore lead to more suffering and death due to TB if appropriate action is not taken now.