Copenhagen, March 24 (IANS) Europe remains a long way from meeting its target to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) by 2030 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and an increased burden of drug-resistant cases, a report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
The report on TB surveillance, which arrives on World Tuberculosis Day 2023 falling on March 24 each year, was jointly launched by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Xinhua news agency reported.
Though there was an “overall downward trend in the incidence of TB in the European Region,” the current rate of decline is deemed insufficient to meet the region’s goals of reducing TB incidence by 80 per cent and TB deaths by 90 per cent, which were set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for ending the TB epidemic by 2030.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the European region experienced the fastest decline in TB incidence and mortality in the world, “yet in 2021, TB mortality in the region increased compared to 2020, and the declining incidence curve has stalled for the first time in 20 years,” said the report.
It also revealed a troubling increase in the incidence of TB cases resistant to Rifampicin, an ansamycin antibiotic used to treat several types of bacterial infections, including TB.
“TB is largely a disease of poverty and neglect, shrouded in stigma and discrimination, affecting some of the most vulnerable,” said Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the World Health Organisation, in the statement.
World Tuberculosis Day is designed to raise public awareness about the global burden of tuberculosis and the current state of TB prevention and control efforts.