Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on tuberculosis (TB) services. Large numbers of patients with TB have been missed during lock-downs, and thousands have failed to receive their anti-TB medications. As a result, TB mortality is expected to increase in the coming years.

Dr. Madhukar Pai, Director of the McGill International TB Centre, has been advocating for a damage control plan, to help mitigate the disruptive effects of the pandemic on essential TB services in low and middle-income countries. The TB Centre has supported a large survey to track the impact of COVID-19 on TB care.

Last week, Dr. Pai received a $1.6M grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to help track the disruptions caused by the pandemic on TB services in the private health sector in India, Indonesia and Nigeria. In these countries, the private health sector is the major service provider, and this sector is becoming harder and more expensive to access.

This past summer, Dr. Pai also received a $400K grant from CIHR & IDRC to try out an integrated approach to testing for COVID-19 as well as TB in Peru. Since cough and fever are symptoms of both infections, an integrated testing approach might help ensure that TB is not missed during this crisis.

September 29, 2020