WHO releases frightening figure of TB infections in Africa

Dr Matshidiso Moeti

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a frightening figure of 2.5 million people contracting Tuberculosis in 2022 in Africa.

By this figure, in that year a person contracted the disease every 13 seconds.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, revealed this in her message to commemorate World TB Day.

Moeti also said the number of TB deaths in 2022 reached 424,000, resulting in the loss of one life every minute – even when TB is preventable and treatable.

World Tuberculosis Day is marked on March 24 every year to create awareness about the impact of the disease.

According to the WHO, TB is a disease caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that often affects the lungs.

The disease is spread through the air when people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit. A person needs to inhale only a few germs to become infected.

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WHO said a total of 1.3m people died from TB in 2022, including 167,000 people with HIV. Globally, TB is the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19 (above HIV and AIDS).

The global health body stated that an estimated 10.6m people fell ill with TB worldwide in 2022, including 5.8m men, 3.5m women and 1.3m children.

Moeti said since the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in Lomé, Togo, in 2022, there has been a 20 per cent increase in identified paediatric TB cases compared to the previous year.

This, he said, signified a positive step that indicated a more practical approach to recognizing TB in children and a decisive push to end this ancient disease.

“Today, we reflect on our progress while recognising the challenges in our efforts to eliminate it as a public health threat.

“TB continues to be the second leading cause of death from a single infectious agent, surpassing the toll of HIV/AIDS. According to the latest report, about 2.5 million individuals contracted TB in 2022 in the region, equating to one person every 13 seconds.

“Additionally, the number of TB deaths in 2022 reached 424,000, resulting in the loss of one life every minute—even when TB is preventable and treatable. These figures underscore the urgency of our collective action in addressing the ongoing TB epidemic and highlight the need for sustained efforts to end it,” she said.

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