Tuberculosis is poised for a deadly global surge, as progress slips due to pandemic-induced disruptions. Urgent action and investment are needed to protect progress made and to meet the 2022 TB targets agreed to by UN Members States.

Time is running out to stop growing waves of tuberculosis (TB), as disruptions to health services continue to erode global progress against this deadly respiratory disease. In fact, new estimates reveal that the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed 12 years of hard-won gains.

Before COVID-19, TB was the leading cause of death from infectious diseases globally. In 2019, approximately 25% of the world’s population had TB, and it claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 people every day.

But progress was being made.

The number of people being treated for TB was on the rise — over 14 million people received care in 2018 and 2019. And the number of people provided with preventive treatment for TB quadrupled, from 1 million in 2015 to over 4 million in 2019.

Enter COVID-19.

National lockdowns led to a surge in unidentified TB cases circulating in communities. At the same time, access to treatment and support services for people living with TB was severely restricted. A modeling analysis commissioned by the Stop TB Partnership estimated that a three-month lockdown for COVID-19 could lead to an additional 1.4 million TB deaths and 6.3 million cases between 2020 and 2025.

The clock is ticking for governments to hold each other accountable and accelerate their collective actions to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on rising TB incidence and mortality.

Read the full article about tuberculosis by Dana Mclaughlin at United Nations Foundation.