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Africa Struggles with Tuberculosis Epidemic: 2.5 Million New Cases in 2022

Africa Struggles with Tuberculosis Epidemic: 2.5 Million New Cases in 2022

The Regional Director for Africa at the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, has highlighted the alarming rates of tuberculosis (TB) in Africa, with approximately 2.5 million individuals contracting the disease in 2022 alone.

This equates to one person being infected every 13 seconds. Dr. Moeti disclosed this information in her message commemorating World TB Day, which is observed annually on March 24th to raise awareness about the impact of the disease.

Despite TB being preventable and treatable, Dr. Moeti revealed that the number of TB-related deaths in Africa reached 424,000 in 2022, resulting in the loss of one life every minute. Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is primarily spread through the air when infected individuals cough, sneeze, or spit. The disease predominantly affects the lungs.

Globally, TB is the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19, surpassing even HIV and AIDS. In 2022, a total of 1.3 million people died from TB, including 167,000 individuals with HIV. The WHO estimates that approximately 10.6 million people fell ill with TB worldwide in 2022, with men, women, and children all being affected.

Dr. Moeti highlighted the efforts made since the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in 2022, where there has been a 20 per cent increase in identified pediatric TB cases compared to the previous year. However, she emphasized the need for more practical approaches to recognizing TB in children and a decisive push to end the disease.

While there has been progress in combating TB in Africa, challenges persist. Delayed diagnosis, limited access to new tools and technologies, and the threat of multi-drug-resistant TB are among the obstacles faced. Dr. Moeti urged stakeholders to provide resources, enhance community engagement, conduct research, and form private-sector partnerships to address these challenges effectively.

Despite commendable reductions in TB deaths and new cases between 2015 and 2022, Dr. Moeti noted that Africa still falls short of the targets set in the End TB Strategy for 2025. While a 38 per cent reduction in TB deaths and a 23 per cent reduction in new TB cases were achieved during this period, more efforts are needed to meet the ambitious goals.

Dr. Moeti called on Member States to prioritize a multi-faceted approach to tackle TB, addressing the root causes of the disease while bolstering efforts in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. She urged health leaders to intensify their commitment to strengthening health systems, ensuring equitable access to TB care, and scaling up innovative interventions.

In conclusion, Dr. Moeti emphasized the urgent need for continued and intensified efforts to combat TB in Africa. Through unified action and sustained commitment from all stakeholders, the region can work towards eliminating TB as a public health threat and improving the health and well-being of its population.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.
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