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Report: Tuberculosis is now killing more people than Covid and AIDS

Top United Nations officials have issued a warning about a surge in tuberculosis (TB) cases, with the disease now responsible for more deaths worldwide than COVID-19 or AIDS. The majority of cases are being reported in conflict zones such as Ukraine and Sudan, where it is difficult to track down and diagnose new cases.

The disease is currently the largest infectious killer in the world, with around 4,400 people, including 700 children, dying from it every day, according to Dr. Lucica Ditiu, the executive director of the Stop TB Partnership.

Dr. Ditiu explained that before COVID-19, there were no dramatic cases of TB reported, but after COVID-19, there has been an increase in more severe forms of the disease. She attributed this to the impact of COVID-19 and conflicts, particularly in Ukraine and Sudan, which are making it difficult to treat people with TB and diagnose new cases.

Ukraine has an estimated 34,000 people with TB, with a high number of drug-resistant cases, making it the country with the highest number of TB cases in the European region. Although the country is resilient in its efforts to maintain services for TB, many people have left the country, making it harder to track down patients. In Sudan, 18,000 people received treatment for TB in 2021, but the ongoing conflict and collapse of the healthcare system in the country is making it increasingly difficult to treat patients.

Dr. Ditiu noted that TB is often forgotten because it primarily affects people in low-income countries with multiple vulnerabilities. She expressed concern that it has taken 19 years to get three or four vaccines for TB to phase 3 trials due to a lack of funding, while a COVID-19 vaccine was developed in less than a year.

The Stop TB Partnership aims to achieve a world free of tuberculosis and is managed by the UN Office for Project Services. Dr. Ditiu will be preparing for a high-level meeting in September, where she will meet with world leaders at the UN General Assembly to address the alarming surge in TB cases.


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