Despite downward trend, at-risk groups prevent elimination of TB in Europe

Dr. Andrea Ammon said in the E.U./EEA, the number of new TB cases has decreased by around 5 percent each year. | File photo
In the wake of World TB Day, recently released data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and WHO/Europe show a surprising number of Europeans developed tuberculosis during 2014.

The statistics indicate there were as many as 340,000 cases on the continent, correlating to a rate of 37 cases per 100,000 people.

The Millennium Development Goal for the WHO European Region was to reverse the incidence of TB by 2015. New TB cases have been on the decrease, dropping by an average of 4.3% percent between 2010 and 2014. However, there have been higher rates of multidrug-resistant TB, as well as TB within more vulnerable demographic groups such as the homeless, drug and alcohol abusers and migrants from nations with less aggressive polices and goals. This continues to hamper the efforts to fully eliminate the disease.

"Social circumstances or lifestyles may make it more difficult for some people to recognize the symptoms of TB, access health care services, follow a treatment or attend regular healthcare appointments,” ECDC acting Director Dr. Andrea Ammon said. “We need to think about tailored interventions for such vulnerable people, which can include outreach teams or directly observed treatment.”

Ammon said in the E.U./EEA, the number of new TB cases has decreased by around 5 percent each year.

“And if TB is not successfully tackled in vulnerable groups, it will not be eliminated as planned," she said. "This is why ECDC releases scientific advice to support countries in reaching poor and marginalized populations that are particularly vulnerable to TB."

Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, Europe’s WHO regional director, said one-fourth of the 480,000 patients sick with multidrug-resistant TB globally were in the European Region in 2014.

"This alarmingly high number is a major challenge for TB control," she said. "The most vulnerable groups, including poor and marginalised populations and migrants and refugees, are at greater risk of developing MDR TB. Because of their living conditions, TB is often diagnosed late, and it is harder for them to complete a treatment course. If we really want to eliminate TB from Europe, no one must be left behind. This is in line with the Framework of Health 2020 and the global agenda of the sustainable development goals."

Organizations in this story

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control SE-171 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Get notified the next time we write about European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control!