New upward trend presents internationally, during the retreat of the COVID-19 pandemic, tuberculosisa major global public health problem, reports EODY, on the occasion of today’s World Tuberculosis Day.

In Greece, before the COVID-19 pandemic (2004-2019), based on the mandatory disease declaration system, an average of 570 cases of active tuberculosis were reported annually, with a calculated average incidence of 5.2 cases per 100,000 population, according to EODY. However, due to significant underreporting, the true incidence of tuberculosis in Greece is estimated to be higher.

According to the EODY, the long-term trend in the annual total number of active tuberculosis cases remains decreasing in the general population, but steadily increasing among foreigners and vulnerable social groups (eg residents in hospitality structures, the elderly and immunosuppressed patients). Regarding the number of cases in Greeks, the age group with the highest prevalence is that of people >65 years old.

Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a significant increase in the most contagious forms of tuberculosis (extensive pulmonary tuberculosis, presence of lung cavity).

Among the combined interventions needed to halt the emergence of TB, unfettered access to appropriate TB treatment is necessary to treat patients and prevent the spread of TB in the community. A significant percentage of patients with active tuberculosis start anti-tuberculosis treatment, but stop it before its completion, with the risk of relapse of the infectious disease and development of resistance to the main anti-tuberculosis drugs.

In view of the protection of patients, but also of public health during the retreat of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Greece, as on a global scale, the reorganization of public health actions to stop tuberculosis is required, with the first step ensuring the comprehensive treatment of the cases, concludes the EODY.