EHS-COVID (16) Impact of COVID-19 on tuberculosis services

4 November, 2020

Below are the citation and selected extracts of a Comment in The Lancet (24 October). COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on access to tuberculosis worldwide, and yet there are opportunities for synergy. If you have personal experience as a health professional caring for patients with tuberculosis, or information about the situation in your country, please let us know:


CITATION: Comment| volume 396, issue 10259, p1312-1313, october 24, 2020

Building a tuberculosis-free world while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Michael J A Reid et al.

Published: October 24, 2020 DOI:

The COVID-19 response has reduced access to tuberculosis services worldwide, including in China, India, South Africa, and Nigeria.

In India, Kenya, and Ukraine, a 3-month lockdown, followed by a 10-month recovery period, is projected to lead to an estimated 1·65 million, 41 400, and 7960 additional incident tuberculosis cases in the next 5 years, respectively, because of limited access to drugs, diagnostics, and prevention programmes in the past few months.

Despite these challenges, there are opportunities for synergy to expand tuberculosis programmes... COVID-19 and tuberculosis both require robust infection control strategies and similar diagnostic infrastructure... Mitigation strategies that proved successful in tuberculosis can also be deployed to assist in the community control of COVID-19... In addition, given the scale of testing needed in the COVID-19 pandemic, the introduction of testing capabilities in low-income and middle-income countries should be used for tuberculosis and HIV as well....

With sound science, effective collaboration, smart investments, and efficient synergies, COVID-19 efforts could strengthen the global tuberculosis response and not undermine it.


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,

Coordinator, WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on Essential Health Services and COVID-19