Step Up for TB 2020, a report surveying 37 high tuberculosis (TB)-burden countries released by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Stop TB Partnership shows that critical medical innovations are reaching far fewer people who urgently need them.
The report shows that many countries continue to lag behind in getting their national policies in line with new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, leading to a sharp drop in the number of people diagnosed with TB. As highlighted in the report, 85 per cent of countries surveyed still do not use the life-saving point-of-care urinary TB LAM test for routine diagnosis of TB in people living with HIV, as recommended by the WHO.
The humanitarian organisation notes that while the world mobilises to fight COVID-19, governments have an opportunity to scale up their TB response. COVID-19 is exacerbating inequalities, making it even more important to reach people with life-saving TB prevention and treatment. Countries must take immediate action to implement people-centred TB policies, including treatment initiation and follow-up at primary healthcare facilities, MSF says.
Implementation of the WHO guidelines is urgently needed to minimise the unnecessary risk of COVID-19 by reducing visits to health facilities, without disrupting treatment, MSF says.