Friday marks the United Nations' World Tuberculosis Day, aimed at raising awareness of a disease that kills an estimated 1.8 million people every year. Six countries account for 60 percent of the total number of cases of TB worldwide - India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa. The disease is among the country's top 10 killers and the number one killer of hospitalised patients and yet it is treatable, curable and preventable.
"In South Africa, for example, TB is the commonest cause of death and the disease is out of control in Africa", said Dr. Keertan Dheda, head of the Division of Pulmonology at the University of Cape Town.
About 20‚000 people get multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) each year.
MDR-TB occurs when patients inappropriately or incorrectly use antimicrobial drugs or prematurely interrupt their treatment.
They are calling for accurate diagnostic tests to deliver individually targeted treatments, clear prescription guidelines, and improved control measures to prevent infection spread.
"The missing TB patients remain a major risk for the spreading of infectious diseases", Dr Rouseli said at a press conference organised by the NTP, Brac and their partner NGOs on the eve of World TB Day today. I am a huge advocate for TB research and recently launched the India TB Research and Development Corporation (ITRDC), a flagship initiative by ICMR, that aims to bring together all major national and worldwide stakeholders to develop new tools (drug, diagnostics, vaccines) for TB.
Dr. Kaushik added, "Proposed National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis Elimination, 2017-25 states that it is important to reach out to all the Drug Sensitive TB and Drug Resistant TB cases with an emphasis on reaching TB patients seeking care from private providers and undiagnosed TB in high-risk populations". Every year, strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis will emerge that are more transmissible, more hard to treat, and more widespread in the community.
Nearly 10% of total TB cases in India are among children, but only six percent are reported. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) remains a public health crisis with three countries carrying the major burden - India, China, and the Russian Federation - which together account for almost half of all cases globally.
The increase in new infections to 2.8 million from the previous 2.2 million is largely attributed to cases that were notified by the private sector after it was made mandatory for all to notify TB cases in 2012.
The mortality rate is extremely high at around 40% for patients with MDR-TB and 60% for patients with XDR-TB. Read to know why is drug-resistant TB such a big challenge for India?