Lalit K Jha
The United States on Friday announced a USD 57 million aid for efforts against tuberculosis in seven high-burden countries, including India.
Other countries for which the aid is being given are Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa, Tajikistan and Ukraine.
Designed in collaboration with partner governments, the initiative will provide a foundation to the high-burden countries to recover the ground lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a media release said.
In the 23 countries where the US Agency for International Development (USAID) focuses, one million fewer people had access to tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment in 2020 than in 2019 due to COVID-19 and measures to control it.
The USAID said alongside COVID-19, TB is the leading infectious disease killer, particularly in low and middle-income countries, sickening 10 million people and taking 1.4 million lives every year.
In the wake of the devastating impact of the pandemic on TB services, this assistance will strengthen simultaneous testing for both tuberculosis and COVID-19, identify cases through contact investigations and community screenings.
This commitment represents approximately 19 per cent of the USAID's annual TB funding, the agency sid.
The US agency said due to the far-reaching impact of coronavirus, TB is projected to sicken 6.3 million more people with an additional 1.4 million deaths by 2025.
The pandemic toll puts the world's poorest and most vulnerable populations at even more risk, it said, adding that those suffering from both COVID-19 and TB are about three times more likely to die than those with only TB.
As the world's largest bilateral donor leading the fight to end tuberculosis, the USAID remains committed to addressing both diseases, ultimately helping countries get back on track by putting 40 million people on TB treatment by 2022, it said.
Since 2000, the USAID efforts have saved over 60 million lives, said the media release.
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