This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19 caused rise in TB deaths for first time in a decade
Deaths from tuberculosis – one of the top infectious killers in the world - have increased for the first time in a decade, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
New data from the UN health agency highlighted how years of global progress in tackling the preventable disease had been “reversed”, as the pandemic overwhelmed health care systems in 2020, preventing vulnerable people from seeking help.
With data from 197 countries and areas, WHO said that in 2020, some 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020 – more than in 2019.
Lockdowns had also stymied many people’s access to essential health care services, WHO added, with the additional warning that the death toll from the disease “could be much higher in 2021 and 2022”.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the development as “alarming news”, insisting that it should “serve as a global wake-up call to the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected.”
Africa’s COVID-19 diagnosis gap; just 1 in 7 infections detected
Staying with the UN health agency, which said that new data showed that only one in seven COVID-19 infections is detected in Africa.
In an alert on Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) cited data indicating that the total number of COVID-19 infections is estimated at 59 million in Africa - seven times more than reported cases.
To tackle the problem, WHO has backed an initiative to enhance community screening for COVID-19 in eight countries.
The programme aims to carry out rapid diagnostic tests on more than seven million people in the next 12 months.
The countries participating in the programme are Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Zambia.
Mali maestro’s message of peace to Sahel region’s youngsters drawn to extremism
And finally, an ambitious project to raise awareness about rising insecurity and mass displacement in the Sahel has resulted in an original musical score from Mali songwriter Vieux Farka Touré.
In partnership with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Mr. Toure’s A Song For The Sahel, highlights the crisis in many countries of the region, while also showcasing its rich musical heritage.
In an interview with UN News, the respected musician described how he no longer felt comfortable driving across the country to perform, as he used to do.
Malians now “sleep with one eye open”, he said, in reference to the insurgency led by extremists, who have taken advantage of the lack of opportunities for the country’s youngsters.
“Before, I used to take my car from Bamako to Nefanke, now you have to ask every one kilometre, ‘Okay what’s happened there? It’s good? No problem. Okay, let’s go, we go now”...“You see, so just kill for $100 - for $100 you kill somebody - it’s because the people don’t have nothing to eat, and …they don’t have nothing. This is Bamako …what about Timbuktu, north Mali, I don’t know what the people are doing there.”
Mr. Toure urged the country’s youngsters to “show courage and strength to fight against the insecurity affecting Mali and the other countries of the Sahel”.
According to OCHA, this year, almost 29 million people need life-saving assistance and protection in the region, that’s five million more than last year.
To hear the interview with Vieux Farka Touré, go to the audio hub on our UN News English main page.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.