Europe’s TB deaths rise for first time in 2 decades
The disease killed 27,300 people in 2021.
Tuberculosis (TB) deaths in Europe increased in 2021 for the first time in nearly two decades due to the pandemic’s disruption on treatment and diagnostic services, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization’s Europe office said today.
In the WHO European Region, 27,300 people died from TB in 2021, compared with 27,000 deaths in 2020.
The situation in Europe is detailed in a report on TB surveillance and monitoring in Europe, also published today, in which the ECDC and WHO/Europe warn that there is much work to do when it comes to ending TB on the Continent.
“In 2021, the raging COVID-19 pandemic continued to heavily affect our Member States. TB resources were diverted, and patients experienced difficulties in accessing clinical services, possibly resulting in delayed diagnosis and treatment of some TB cases. Therefore, we need to increase the number of people diagnosed and successfully treated,” said ECDC Director Andrea Ammon in a statement.
The report finds that though there is an overall downward trend in the number of TB cases in Europe in recent years, the slow rate at which they’re going down could derail the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals’ target of ending tuberculosis as a global public health threat by 2030.
Within EU/EEA countries, 33,520 people were diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2021, compared with more than 33,800 in 2020. But the burden of disease is unequal: Nearly a quarter of the 2021 cases were in Romania, the report finds. Romania also had the highest rate of cases among kids, with 9.2 cases per 100,000 people aged 0-4 years old.
However, the authors also warn that the latest figures and trends should be “interpreted with caution” due to the impact of pandemic measures on tuberculosis detection and reporting.