TB care in PHL declines–WHO


The Covid-19 pandemic may have reversed the gains in tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment, including in the Philippines, which is one of the highest TB burden countries in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In its Global Tuberculosis Report 2021, the WHO TB treatment in countries like the Philippines have become “worryingly low” in 2020.

WHO said the Philippines is one of the eight high TB burden countries in the world and which has seen an estimated treatment coverage of only 50 percent in 2020.

“Eight high TB burden countries had worryingly low levels of treatment coverage in 2020, with best estimates of below 50 percent: Central African Republic, Gabon, Indonesia, Lesotho, Liberia, Mongolia, Nigeria and the Philippines,” WHO said.

“The major reversals of previous progress in increasing the number of people newly diagnosed with TB each year have badly impacted progress towards the global TB treatment targets set at the UN high-level meeting,” it added.  

The report stated that in 2020, 10 countries accounted for the majority or 74 percent of the global gap of TB incidence and the number of people newly diagnosed with TB.

These gaps, WHO explained, are due to underreporting of people diagnosed with TB and underdiagnosis since people did not have access to healthcare in 2020.  

WHO said it is important that these countries recover their pre-pandemic levels of TB case detection in order to attain the global TB targets.

“The top three contributors were India, Indonesia and the Philippines (with) 24 percent, 11 percent and 8.3 percent (of the global gap), respectively,” WHO said.

The report added that the Philippines is also part of the 16 countries that accounted for the 93 percent or 1.3 million total global drop in TB case detections in 2020.

Data showed that TB case detection in the Philippines declined to 12 percent followed by China which saw its detection drop to 8 percent last year.

Other countries included India, which saw its TB case detection decline 41 percent followed by Indonesia with a decline of 14 percent.

“The largest relative reductions in annual notifications between 2019 and 2020 were seen in Gabon (80 percent), the Philippines (37 percent), Lesotho (35 percent), Indonesia (31 percent) and India (25 percent),” WHO said.

The WHO Global TB Report provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the TB epidemic, and of progress in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease, at global, regional and country levels. This is done in the context of global TB commitments, strategies and targets.

The WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme works towards the goal of a world free of TB, with zero deaths, disease and suffering due to the disease.

The team’s mission is to lead and guide the global effort to end the TB epidemic through universal access to people-centered prevention and care, multisectoral action and innovation.

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