WHO: 1.6 million people died of tuberculosis worldwide in 2021

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The number of cases and deaths from tuberculosis has increased worldwide, after years of decline in the record of the disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), isolation linked to covid-19 has limited diagnosis and access to treatments. Data from the WHO Global Tuberculosis 2022 Report indicate that in 2021, about 10.6 million people contracted the disease, an increase of 4.5% compared to 2020, and 1.6 million people died from tuberculosis.

The document indicates that the burden of drug-resistant tuberculosis has also increased by 3% between 2020 and 2021, with 450,000 new cases of the drug-resistant disease rifampicin in 2021. According to the WHO, this is the first time in years that an increase has been reported. among the number of people who become ill with tuberculosis.

For the organization, services related to tuberculosis are among several that were interrupted by the covid-19 pandemic in 2021, but their impact on the response to the disease was “particularly serious”. Ongoing conflicts in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East have worsened the plight of vulnerable populations.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that with solidarity, determination, innovation and the equitable use of tools, we can overcome serious health threats. Let’s apply these lessons to tuberculosis. It’s time to end this ancient murder. Working together, we can end TB,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom.


The reported number of people newly diagnosed with tuberculosis dropped from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020. According to the report, there was a partial recovery to 6.4 million in 2021, but below pre-pandemic levels. . For the WHO, reductions in the number of people diagnosed with tuberculosis suggest that the number of people undiagnosed and untreated has increased. The result is an increase in the number of deaths from the disease and more community transmission of the infection and then, with some delay, an increase in the number of people who develop tuberculosis.

The report indicates a decline in global spending on essential tuberculosis services from US$6 billion in 2019 to US$5.4 billion in 2021, which is less than half of the global target of US$13 billion annually by 2022. source of funding is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund). The United States is the largest contributor of funding to the fund, contributing around 50% of international donors.

The WHO report also pointed out that 26.3 million people received treatment for tuberculosis between 2018 and 2021. The number of treated is below the goals set for 2018-2022, which is 40 million people on treatment.


For the organization, the advance in the scenario is in the preventive treatment of tuberculosis for people with HIV. The group surpassed the global target of 6 million in the period 2018-2022, reaching more than 10 million in four years. Seven countries collectively accounted for 82% of those starting preventive treatment in 2021: India, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


Tuberculosis is an infectious, communicable disease and one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Until the pandemic, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death for a single infectious agent, ranked above HIV/AIDS. The disease is caused by bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis, also known as Koch’s bacillus, and primarily affects the lungs, although it can affect other organs and/or systems. The main symptom of pulmonary tuberculosis is coughing. This cough can be dry or with phlegm.

The disease is transmitted through the respiratory route, through the elimination of aerosols produced by coughing, speaking or sneezing from a person with active tuberculosis (pulmonary or laryngeal), without treatment; and inhalation of aerosols by a susceptible individual.

According to the WHO, tuberculosis is both preventable and curable. About 85% of people who develop tuberculosis can be successfully treated with a 4- to 6-month drug regimen; treatment has the added benefit of reducing transmission of the infection.

Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News

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