Deaths from tuberculosis (TB) have risen again for the first time in more than a decade as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts access to health services, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
"This is alarming news and should serve as a global wake-up call about the urgent need to invest and innovate to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease," WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
In the 2021 Global TB report, the WHO estimated that about 4.1 million people have TB but are undiagnosed or not officially declared to health authorities, a sharp increase from 2.9 million in 2019.
An estimated 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020, including 214,000 people who also have HIV.
"The number will continue to rise unless urgent action is taken," the health watchdog tweeted.