Global TB Report 2021


  • Recently, the Global TB report was released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Key Findings of Global TB Report 2021

  • WHO estimates that some 4.1 million people currently suffer from TB but have not been diagnosed with the disease or have not officially reported to national authorities. This figure is up from 2.9 million in 2019.
  • Worse, India (41%) was on the list of countries which topped those that contributed most to the global reduction in TB notifications between 2019 and 2020. India along with Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%), China (8%) and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total global drop in notifications. Global TB Report 2021
  • The number of people treated for drug-resistant TB fell by 15%, from 1,77,000 in 2019 to 1,50,000 in 2020, equivalent to only about 1 in 3 of those in need.
  • In 2020, more people died from TB, with far fewer people being diagnosed and treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared with 2019, and overall spending on essential TB services falling.

Associated Challenges 

  • The first challenge was a disruption in access to TB services and a reduction in resources
  • In many countries, human, financial and other resources had been reallocated from tackling TB to the COVID-19 response, limiting the availability of essential services
  • Many people with TB were not diagnosed in 2020
    • The number of people newly diagnosed with TB and those reported to national governments fell from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.
  • Global investment for TB fell and the funding in the low- and middle-income countries that account for 98% of reported TB cases remained a challenge. 
  • less willingness and ability to seek care in the context of lockdowns and associated restrictions on movement.
  •  The stigma is associated with similarities in the symptoms related to TB and COVID-19. 

Key Suggestions

  • The recent data must serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease.
  • To improve the diagnosis, countries need to increase the proportion of cases that are confirmed bacteriologically either through bacteria culture or rapid tests. The share of rapid tests especially needs to go up as only 33 percent of total cases were diagnosed through it.

Back to Basics

About Tuberculosis

  • It is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (bacteria) and it most often affects the lungs.
  • Transmission is spread through the air when people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit. 
    • A person needs to inhale only a few germs to become infected.
    • With TB infection, a person gets infected with TB bacteria that lie inactive in the body. This infection can develop into TB disease if their immune system weakens. 
  • Symptoms:
    • Prolonged cough, chest pain, weakness/fatigue, weight loss, fever, etc.
    • Often, these symptoms will be mild for many months, thus leading to delays in seeking care and increasing the risk of spreading the infection to others.
  • Diagnosis:
    • In the case of suspected lung TB disease, a sputum sample is collected for testing for TB bacteria.
    • For non-lung TB disease, samples of affected body fluids and tissue can be tested.
    • WHO recommends rapid molecular diagnostic tests as initial tests for people showing signs and symptoms of TB.
    • Other diagnostic tools can include sputum smear microscopy and chest X-rays.
  • Treatment:
    • Both TB infection and disease are curable using antibiotics.
  • Global Efforts:
    • Global Tuberculosis Programme and Report, 1+1 initiative & Multisectoral Accountability Framework for TB by WHO.
    • Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 under UN SDG target 3.3.
    • Moscow Declaration, 2017 to End TB. 
    • World Tuberculosis Day, observed on 24 March each year, is designed to build public awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease.
      • The theme of World TB Day 2021, ‘The Clock is Ticking’, conveys the sense that the world is running out of time to act on the commitments to end TB made by global leaders.
  • Indian Efforts:
    • The government aims to have a TB-free India by 2025, five years ahead of the global target of 2030.
    • National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme: National Strategic Plan to end TB by 2025 under pillars of Detect-Treat-Prevent-Build (DTPB).
    • Universal Immunisation Programme.
    • Revised National TB Control Programme under the National Health Mission.
    • NIKSHAY portal and TB Sample Transport Network.
    • Development of National Framework for Gender-Responsive approach to TB.

Source: TH

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