World TB Day 2022: March 24th


Each year, World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is one of the global public health campaigns observed by the World Health Organization (WHO), and has as its core aim, the raising, and maintaining of public awareness of TB, and its devastating health, social and economic consequences. The theme of World TB Day 2022 - ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives.’ –conveys the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB (and the threat of multi-drug resistant TB), and to achieve the commitments to end TB made by global leaders. This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the progress of End TB at risk, and to ensure equitable access to TB prevention and care in line with WHO’s drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.

Impact of COVID-19 on TB
The WHO’s Global tuberculosis report 2021 reported on the impact of disruptions to health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on the provision of and access to TB services and the response strategies implemented by national TB programmes (NTPs). Other impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic include a 15% decline in people enrolled on treatment for multi-drug resistant (MDR) and rifampicin resistant (RR) TB; a downturn in the number of people initiated on TB preventive treatment between 2019 and 2020; a reduction in spending on TB prevention, diagnostic and treatment services between 2019 and 2020; and a reduction in coverage of the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine among children between 2019 and 2020. WHO has recommended that restoration of access to, and provision of essential TB services be given top priority during 2022.

Epidemiology of TB in Ireland
In terms of TB, Ireland is considered by WHO to be a low-incidence country. The incidence of TB in Ireland has been declining in the past decade. The number of cases of TB has decreased from 358 in 2012 to 218 in 2021. This corresponds to a decline in the crude incidence rate (CIR) from 7.8 per 100,000 in 2012 to 4.6 per 100,000 in 2021. The CIR declined by 10% in 2021, when compared to 2020.

In 2021, 17% of all TB cases notified were in Irish-born people (38 cases, CIR: 1.0 per 100,000). Cases born outside Ireland accounted for 49% of all cases notified (107 cases, CIR: 13.2 per 100,000). Migrant TB remains a key issue for TB prevention and control in Ireland.