TB in the time of COVID-19: new findings from a community perspective
In a report released today, stark figures are found highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on people affected by TB. As the world grapples with its response to the pandemic, tuberculosis (TB) is having a resurgence.
Due to COVID-19 and lockdowns 3 million people might die of tuberculosis. In the next year, we could see about 2 million TB deaths: an additional 525,000 TB deaths on top of the annual 1.5 million – eliminating over 10 years of progress (as the Global Fund outlined on 14 September). TB interventions and service providers are being reassigned, depleted and diverted while TB programs, healthcare workers and TB affected communities must innovate and overcome this new challenge.
At early signs of the potential devastating impacts of COVID-19 on people affected by TB, a coalition of the main TB stakeholders including ACTION, GCTA, TB People, We are TB, Results Canada, the Global TB Caucus, Stop TB Partnership, TB PPM, and McGill University, quickly mobilised for action. Gathering experiences from across regions through voices on the ground affected by TB, a civil society led survey informs a detailed report titled The impact of COVID-19 on the TB Epidemic: A Community Perspective.
“This report is a rallying cry from communities affected by TB. We listen to the voices of people suffering, collected here by communities around the world. For instance, more than half of people with TB in Kenya and India reported fear of contracting COVID-19 at a health facility, and more than half of people with TB in Kenya indicated experiencing feelings of shame because of the similar symptoms of both respiratory diseases. ” Blessina Kumar
Around the world, policy and program officers reported significant drops in TB notification (88% in the Global Fund implementing countries and 68% in the USA). Over 70% of healthcare workers and advocates reported a decrease in the number of people coming to health facilities for TB testing. In Kenya, 50% of people with TB reported having trouble finding transport to care and in India, 36% of people with TB reported health facilities they normally visit closed.
“The human suffering is aggravated due to COVID-19 as findings show that people with TB urgently need nutrition and socio-economic support - 70% of Kenyan respondents reported not receiving enough support during the pandemic (...) This is a real unique collaborative piece of work driven by communities. United is the only way we can respond to a global pandemic.” Austin Obiefuna
There is an urgent need for a recovery plan to get TB responses back on track to reach the United Nations High- Level Meeting (UN HLM) TB targets and commitments. The pandemic is an opportunity for national TB responses to be more people-centred, to promote equity and access for all, free from discrimination, to enhance fundings and efforts on research and development, to innovate and finally to adapt the global TB response to the new normal.
Link to report
For furthermore information, you can find the complete report, infographics and other resources here.
Global: Robyn Waite - firstname.lastname@example.org - +18196391275
Asia: Blessi Kumar - email@example.com - + 91 9818761110
Americas: Cintia Dantas - firstname.lastname@example.org - +55 (61) 98349-2424
Eastern Europe: Timur Abdullaev - email@example.com
Africa: Austin Obiefuna - firstname.lastname@example.org