World TB day: WHO speaks on challenges of combating tuberculosis

Even in times of COVID-19, tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned on World Tuberculosis Day on Thursday.

WHO and ECDC said the drop in registered TB cases of 24 per cent between 2019 and 2020 was presumably due to the pandemic affecting the diagnosis and reporting of the disease.

They added that it remains the second most deadly infectious disease behind COVID-19.

The organisations said that urgent investments in the battle against TB were crucial against the backdrop of the pandemic.

While countries in Europe and Central Asia have surpassed their goal of a 20 per cent reduction in TB cases within five years, there is no room for complacency, said Hans Kluge, Regional Director of the WHO.

“For further progress against the disease, innovative and more effective procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of TB and multidrug-resistant TB would have to be introduced,” Kluge said.

ECDC director, Andrea Ammon, added that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight against TB has unfortunately grown more difficult in the last two years.

In the European area, which includes 53 countries by WHO standards, more than 160,000 cases of TB were reported in 2020, with 216,000 reported the previous year.(dpa/NAN)

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