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Africa Has Regressed on its TB Gains

Effective tuberculosis (TB) treatment has been available for the past 60 years. But TB remains the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent. It ranks above HIV and AIDS and others. This is partly because of the impact of HIV co-infection among TB patients in places like Africa and emergency of MDR-XDR TB. Lack of both gender mainstreaming and reduction of stigma manifested by persistently lower reported cases among women that men is of continued concern. Progress in TB elimination was being made. But the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns have set back TB control programmes worldwide. More so in Africa. While COVID-19 prevention measures like mask-wearing could have prevented TB transmission, on the whole, little attention was given to holding the forts of TB prevention and treatment as all efforts went to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, disrupting well-functioning programmes built over decades of careful research and planning.