‘Increase Funding for TB,’ WHO says

 -- More than 1.5 million people with TB died in 2020 

The Stop TB Partnership has expressed grave concern over the World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Report findings and calls for increased funding and focus on saving the lives of millions of people with the disease.

The report, which features data on disease trends and the response to the epidemic from over 200 countries and areas, revealed that global deaths from TB have increased for the first time in over a decade and the coronavirus pandemic has reversed years of progress in tackling the disease.

“TB deaths in 2020 have increased for the first time in over a decade, going up to as high as 1.5 million, an upward trend that is expected to worsen in 2021. To make matters worse, in 2020 we saw only 5.8 million people diagnosed and treated with TB, down from 7.1 million in 2019,” the WHO said.

In late September 2021, the Stop TB Partnership released new data showing how funding shortfalls are devastating efforts to end TB by 2030 and called for a doubling of the funding currently available for TB. The Partnership also called on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria to allocate substantially more resources to the TB response, much more than the current allocation of a meager 18% of its resources.

“For more than a year now, we’ve been sounding the alarm over the growing number of people not being diagnosed and treated for TB,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.

“Unfortunately, today’s report confirms what we all feared—that more and more people are dying from TB. We now see more than 4,100 people dying from TB every single day. This is not a prediction; it is a reality. The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with low political will and appallingly low levels of funding, have reversed hard-fought gains in the fight against this age-old disease,” Dr. Ditiu adds.

“People are dying because we are failing to empower and support them and failing to ensure they have access to the preventive therapy, diagnostic tools, and treatments they need. This is simply unacceptable. It’s time to move beyond empty promises, roll up our sleeves, and put our money where our mouth is. I am afraid we are running out of time, and we need speed, money, and commitment today if we want to make a dent in the TB epidemic.”

According to Stop TB Partnership, the report clearly presents the tragic reality of not reaching the United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB targets by the end of 2020, with only 50% of the people with TB treated in all age groups and only 41% percent of children treated between 2018 and 2020. 

“This is heavily due to the fact that the already underfunded TB response saw a dramatic fall in domestic funding in low- and middle-income countries in 2020, with less than half of the global target of US$13 billion in annual funding by 2022 available."

The WHO Global TB Report 2021,  shows that more people died from TB in 2020, with far fewer people being diagnosed and treated or provided with preventive treatment than in 2019, and overall global spending on essential TB services has been falling.