The fight against other diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis or measles is falling behind due to the corona pandemic. This can have serious consequences, especially in developing countries.
The fight against the corona virus outshines everything else. Other infectious diseases that have been known for a long time kill millions of people every year – especially in developing countries.
Experts warn that these deaths will increase significantly as the corona pandemic treats treatment and vaccination for diseases such as measles and AIDS.
Routine care has been suspended in some places
“Everything is focused on fighting Covid,” said Robin Nandy, director of the UN Children’s Fund’s Unicef vaccination program. “Health systems are so burdened that routine care has been suspended in some places.” In order to avoid contagion, health personnel should have as little contact with patients as possible and should therefore no longer vaccinate.
According to Unicef, 37 countries have interrupted their vaccination campaigns. 117 million children could therefore get measles. A childhood disease that can be fatal in areas with poor health care.
Even before the pandemic, more than 2,500 children died of bacterial pneumonia every day. If they were treated, studies have shown that over 800,000 child deaths could be prevented each year.
In Nigeria, pneumonia is the main cause of death in young children and there is a fear that the corona pandemic will cause even more deaths from it. “There are a lot of children with breathing difficulties, but both diagnosis and treatment are problematic for us,” said Sanjana Bhardwaj, Unicef health director in Nigeria.
Measles and malaria are a problem in the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo suffered from several epidemics before Covid-19. Since the measles outbreak began last year, 6,000 people have died there. There are also around 13,000 malaria deaths each year. At least the Ebola epidemic appeared to be over, but new cases were reported in April. “Covid-19 has exacerbated the dangers that have always existed,” said Alex Mutanganyi of the aid organization Save The Children.
Treatment of tuberculosis is complicated by the corona pandemic
The treatment of tuberculosis (TBC) is also made difficult by the corona pandemic. The Stop TB initiative fears that an additional 1.4 million people worldwide could die from it. With around ten million new infections and 1.5 million deaths per year, tuberculosis is the world‘s deadliest infectious disease.
However, significantly less money is invested in TBC research than HIV or Covid-19. The only current TBC vaccine is more than 100 years old and only works in very young children.
Research Fund Imbalance
Developing a safe and universal vaccine would cost about $ 500 million, says Stop TB’s Lucica Ditiu. For comparison: Billions of dollars are being invested in the search for a vaccine against the novel corona virus, and around 70 possible vaccines are already being tested on humans.
“We are amazed to see that 100 vaccine candidates are already in the pipeline for a 120-day-old illness,” says Ditiu. She explains the imbalance in research funding as follows: “Tuberculosis is a disease of the poor.”
In many countries, chronically ill people also have disadvantages from combating corona. Hundreds of millions of people need medication every day, for example against diabetes or high blood pressure. The alliance against non-communicable diseases called on governments at the end of April to ensure that those affected are treated despite the pandemic – especially since these diseases can lead to complications from Sars-CoV-2 infection.