Ukraine, Sudan conflicts fuel alarming surge in tuberculosis
May 8, 2023 -UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Top U.N. officials and health industry leaders are trying to tackle an alarming surge in tuberculosis, which is now killing more people worldwide than COVID-19 or AIDS. Among the problems: a high number of cases in conflict zones, including Ukraine and Sudan, where it’s difficult to track down people with the disease and diagnose new sufferers.
Tuberculosis is the biggest infectious disease killer in the world today, taking the lives of around 4,400 people every day, including 700 children, Dr. Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, said before a hearing Monday to prepare for a high-level meeting in late September during the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly.
Before COVID-19, which like TB is transmitted through the air, “we didn’t see very dramatic cases of TB,” she said, “but after COVID we saw a type of TB that we saw in … movies in which people spit blood and they are very weak, and so on.”
Ditiu said the economic impact of COVID and conflicts, first and foremost in Ukraine but now also in Sudan, are having “a huge impact” on efforts to treat people with TB and diagnose new cases.
Ukraine has the highest number of estimated people with TB in the European region — 34,000 — and also a high number with drug-resistant TB, she said at a news conference last week.