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Devastating effect of COVID-19 pandemic on TB response

A report predicts that 6.3 million more people will become ill with tuberculosis and 1.4 million more people will die from tuberculosis by 2025, as a consequence of the COVID-19 situation and the measures taken. As with any model, this is dependent upon how long the pandemic lasts for; however, the general trend is towards a rise in tuberculosis cases.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that affects the lungs and may even spread to other body parts. When it involves the lungs, then it is termed as pulmonary tuberculosis. And, when outside the lungs, then it is extrapulmonary tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and under normal circumstances, according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1.7 million people die from such an infection worldwide every year.

The central concern under the COVID-19 restrictions is that the combination of lockdowns and various limitations on diagnosis, treatment and prevention services are predicted to increase the annual number of tuberculosis cases and deaths over the next five years. Furthermore, at least five years of progress on combating tuberculosis and the overall medical response could be lost.

This warning comes from the Stop TB Partnership, in collaboration with the Imperial College, Avenir Health and Johns Hopkins University.

In response to the accumulation of medical evidence, the partners are calling upon all governments and stakeholders to ensure that the tuberculosis programs and operations continue, without interruption, despite the complications causes by the coronavirus pandemic. Without this, another disease with terrible consequences will increase in terms of the case count. In terms of specific risk areas, India, Kenya, and Ukraine and likely to be impacted the most.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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