Early COVID-19 pandemic's toll on tuberculosis services, WHO European Region, January to June 2020
SourceEuro Surveillance, 26, 24, (2021), article 2100231
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BackgroundEssential health services, including for tuberculosis (TB), are being affected by public health and social measures (PHSM) introduced to control COVID-19. In many settings, TB resources, facilities and equipment are being redirected towards COVID-19 response.AimWe sought to assess the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on TB services in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region.MethodsThe fifty-three European Region Member States were asked to report qualitative and quantitative data in quarter one and two (Q1 and Q2) 2020. TB notifications were triangulated with the severity score on domestic movement restrictions to assess how they may have influenced TB detection.ResultsTwenty-nine countries reported monthly TB notifications for the first half of 2019 and 2020. TB notifications decreased by 35.5% during Q2 2020 compared with Q2 2019, which is six-fold more than the average annual decrease of 5.1% documented during 2015-2019. The number of patients enrolled in rifampicin-resistant/multidrug-resistant TB treatment also decreased dramatically in Q2 2020, by 33.5%. The highest movement restriction severity score was observed between April and May 2020, which coincided with the highest observed decrease in TB notifications.ConclusionA decrease in TB detection and enrolment to treatment may cause increases in TB burden and threatens the Region's ability to reach the TB targets of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, still this might be mitigated with rapid restoration of TB services and the implementation of targeted interventions during periods with severe PHSM in place, such as those introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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