WHO Appeals for Tuberculosis Treatment amid COVID-19 Pandemic

World Tuberculosis Day

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one quarter of the world’s population is infected with TB bacteria.  That number equates to 1.95 billion people. 

People who have TB bacteria are neither sick or contagious but they are at greater risk of contracting tuberculosis – especially if they compromise their immune system with a brutal virus like COVID-19, which is running rampant around the globe. 

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General wants the world to know just how vulnerable people with lung diseases and compromised immune systems are – and never more, as at this unprecedented time.

Populations at highest risk are members of the households of TB patients, people living with HIV and people with deteriorating immune systems.

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“Millions of people need to be able to take TB preventive treatment to stop the onset of disease, avert suffering and save lives,” says Ghebreyesus.

TB remains the top cause of death among people with HIV.  TB preventive treatment works synergistically with antiretroviral therapy to prevent TB and save lives,” says WHO. 

On World TB Day, March 24th, 2020, the World Health Organization will launch new guidelines for TB preventive treatment that are expected to transform the TB response. 

“WHO is calling on governments, affected communities, civil society organizations, health-care providers, donors, partners and the industry to unite forces and step up the TB response - notably for TB preventive treatment - to ensure no one is left behind,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme.

“The new WHO guidelines show the way forward for millions to rapidly access new tools and shorter, safer options for preventive treatment.  The time for action is now,” adds Kasaeva.

“The new WHO guidelines show the way forward for millions to rapidly access new tools and shorter, safer options for preventive treatment.  The time for action is now,” adds Kasaeva.

“TB preventive treatment is an affordable intervention that can prevent families from sliding into poverty and preserve the health and economy of whole communities,” says WHO.

WHO anticipates the availability of new and safer drugs on the market and when prices become more cost effective, it will develop into a significant measure to save millions of lives.

WHO is committed to eradicating TB by 2030, which will not only provide protection but also cut down the risk of transmission.




  • 58 million lives have been saved between 2000 and 2018 with global efforts.
  • 10 million people contracted TB in 2018 and 1.5 million people died.
  • Each day, over 4,000 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease.
  • In 2018, 1.1 million children fell ill with TB globally and 205,000 died.
  • TB is the leading killer of HIV patients and a major cause of deaths related to microbial resistance – a public health crisis.
  • $10.1 billion was required for TB diagnosis, treatment and care in 2019.
  • $2 billion is required annually for TB research.
  • $3.3 billion is required each year to fill resource gaps.


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