There was a major global recovery in the number of people diagnosed with TB and treated in 2022, after two years of COVID-related disruptions, according to the just-released WHO Global TB Report. While this has started to reverse or moderate, TB remains the world’s second leading cause of death from a single infectious agent, and global TB targets have either been missed or remain off track. The net reduction from 2015 to 2022 was 8.7%, far from the WHO End TB Strategy milestone of a 50% reduction by 2025.
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The reported global number of people newly diagnosed with TB was 7.5 million in 2022. This is the highest number since WHO began global TB monitoring in 1995, above the pre-COVID baseline (and previous historical peak) of 7.1 million in 2019, and up from 5.8 million in 2020 and 6.4 million in 2021. The number in 2022 probably includes a sizeable backlog of people who developed TB in previous years, but whose diagnosis and treatment was delayed by COVID-related disruptions that affected access to and provision of health services, according to the report.
India, Indonesia and the Philippines, which collectively accounted for nearly 60% of the reduction in the number of people newly diagnosed with TB in 2020 and 2021, recovered to above 2019 levels in 2022. TB caused an estimated 1.30 million deaths in 2022, again almost back to the level of 2019. COVID-related disruptions are estimated to have resulted in almost half a million excess deaths from TB in the three years 2020–2022.
The report further says treatment success rates have improved: to 88% for people treated for drug-susceptible TB and 63% for people with MDR/RR-TB. Ending the global TB epidemic requires translating the commitments made at the 2023 UN high-level meeting on TB into action, it adds.