People still die of tuberculosis

More than 4,000 people die of tuberculosis worldwide every day

Tuberculosis should be defeated by 2030. By 2022, at least 30 million people are to receive preventive treatment because they are at risk of infection, including four million children. But it is becoming increasingly unlikely to achieve the goal. This is reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) on World Tuberculosis Day on March 24th.

In theory, nobody would have to die of tuberculosis (TBC) any more. But to this day TBC is one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world because only a fraction of the people receive the necessary, life-saving medication. As a result, according to the WHO, more than 4,000 people died from the infectious disease every day in 2018 alone. In total, around ten million people fell ill that year, as the WHO writes.

A quarter of the world's population carries the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis in itself, which can affect the lungs, but also other organs. That's nearly two billion people. Many are healthy and do not infect others. However, if the immune system is weakened, there is a risk of getting sick. An additional risk: the bacterium has become resistant to common drugs over time. In half a million people who broke out with tuberculosis in 2018, the drugs therefore had no effect.

One requirement: treat risk groups more consistently

Cough, fever and runny nose are initially among the symptoms, as well as head, back, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite and weight, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Very general signs that do not immediately make you think of the infectious disease. A laboratory test ultimately shows whether someone is actually infected.

Despite the crisis caused by the new Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus, which can cause the lung disease Covid-19, the world must continue to do everything possible to defeat diseases such as tuberculosis, said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "Millions of people must be able to get preventive medication in order to prevent an outbreak of the disease, avert suffering and save lives." Risk groups must be treated more consistently, the WHO demands. These include relatives of TB patients, people with HIV and those with compromised immune systems. As a secondary infection to the AIDS pathogen HIV, tuberculosis is relevant, the disease is the main cause of death among AIDS sufferers worldwide. Infection with Sars-CoV-2 is also particularly dangerous for TB patients.

As a preventive measure, patients are treated with one or more antibiotics for up to six months. According to the WHO, the treatment costs between 5 and 15 dollars in poorer countries, the equivalent of up to 14 euros. Every dollar invested in the fight against tuberculosis brings in $ 43, said the head of the TBC program at the WHO, Tereza Kasaeva, for example through saved health costs or the productivity of those who stayed or would be healthy.