TB in India: Is India poised to become a world leader in eliminating TB?

Published on: 2018/05/03


TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Report 2017, India continues to have the highest number of TB cases in the world. But we are tackling this challenge head-on.

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TB in India, Tuberculosis, TB statistics in India, Life science articles

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Prevalence of TB in India

India has the highest burden of both TB and MDR TB. According to estimates, 40% of the Indian population has been infected by the TB bacteria. In most of these cases, it is latent TB rather than the disease. India ranks second in HIV associated TB cases.

TB leads to the death of around 5000 people every day, worldwide, making it one of the top infectious diseases. The report released by WHO in the Global TB health, states that in 2017, India still has the highest number of TB cases in the world. The main challenge is the underreporting or underdiagnosis of these cases.

What is the current treatment for TB?

The treatment for TB takes a long time and involves following the doctor’s instructions without fail. The entire course of treatment should be completed even if the patient ‘feels’ better. Not doing so can cause relapse and development of drug-resistant forms of TB, which can prove to be dangerous.

Is tuberculosis common in India?

TB has been a cause for concern even during the pre-independence era. After India achieved its independence in 1945, there were many nationwide movements to control TB. Currently, WHO-assisted TB control programs are in place to bring the numbers under control.

Is tuberculosis curable in India?

India being a developing country faces many major challenges to controlling TB. TB in India goes unchecked due to poor infrastructure in rural areas, expensive private healthcare facilities, a large number of HIV cases, poverty, lack of government backing and rampant corruption in the country at all levels. Reports show that the disease kills 4.8- 5 lakh Indians every year. Considering the current status of TB in India, the Government of India is making intensive efforts to achieve its goal of being TB-free by 2025.

WHO report on TB in India

In 1992, WHO reviewed the national program in India. The report found that there were several issues that prevented India from eradicating TB. There were several loopholes like administrative apathy, lack of funding, non-standard treatment, non-compliance with the treatment or follow up thereafter, lack of information etc. In 1993, WHO declared TB to be a global emergency. The DOTS strategy was developed and all countries were recommended to adopt it.

The current status of TB in India looks dismal. Considering the grim situation, the only question that comes to mind is,’ Can TB be completely cured?’ Government efforts coupled with regular and consistent treatment may reduce the number of deaths associated with TB in India, but it will still remain a huge challenge.

Read more – Is India poised to become a world leader in eliminating TB? – By Manbeena Chawla