The long hard road to overcoming TBC

dr. Nurul Nadia H.W. Luntungan, MPH
dr. Nurul Nadia H.W. Luntungan, MPH. Photo: DRISANA CENTER

Jakarta, IO – World Health Organization (WHO) 2021 data shows that tuberculosis (“TBC”) incidence for the year was 4.8 million cases, with the highest occurrences happening in India (2.5 million), China (842,000), and Indonesia (824,000). It was the world’s deadliest communicable disease, prior to the arrival of Covid-19. 

In a virtual media meet held to commemorate World Tuberculosis Day in Jakarta, on Tuesday (22/03/2022), dr. Nurul Nadia H.W. Luntungan, MPH, Chairwoman of Stop TB Partnership Indonesia Foundation, reported that for the first time in over a decade, TBC deaths increased by 100,000 from 2019 to 2020. “On the other hand, funding for TBC eradication programs in 2020 has dropped during the Covid-19 pandemic, a whopping 8.7% of the 2019 amount. This is because TBC funds were diverted to Covid-19 eradication instead,” she said. 

Funding for TBC prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care in 2020 was budgeted at USD 13 billion, but only USD 5.3 billion was expended. Even worse, only USD 901 million of the USD 2 billion Government TBC research funding target for 2019 was realized. The fact that the budget expenditure was not even 50% of the target shows just how straitened the global budget for TBC eradication really is. 

“This obstructs efforts to eliminate TBC, and it affects the economy. The ideal budget allocation for TBC eradication in Indonesia is USD 500 million. However, in 2021, the Indonesian Government could only spare USD 100 million for the purpose, with USD 60 million in global supporting funds. Therefore, we are unlikely to achieve our target of total TBC elimination in 2030, as we had hoped,” dr. Nurul said. 

Multiple Innovations 

At the same event, the Indonesian Ministry of Health’s Director of the Prevention and Control of Directly Communicable Diseases, Dr. drh. Didik Budijanto, M.Kes, admitted that the detection rate and scope of available TBC treatment has gone down because of the pandemic. In 2019, there were 562,000 cases, with a treatment coverage rate of 67%. In 2021, there were 402,502 cases with a treatment coverage rate of 49%. 

“The Government has created multiple innovations to prevent and eliminate TBC by 2030. These include innovations for case discovery, early detection, treatment, and digital health services. We ask that the people do their part and maintain strict adherence to health protocols to safeguard themselves from catching either Covid-19 or TBC,” he said. (est)