Tuberculosis in India- Challenges and Elimination

Dr Harsh Vardhan, while addressing Ministers of Member Nations of WHO, Heads and Representatives of UN Agencies on September 23, 2020 said that India has accorded high priority for ending tuberculosis by 2025. India would achieve this target five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals.

About Tuberculosis

  • It is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria.
  • Tuberculosis majorly affects the lungs and can affect other parts of the body as well.
  • Symptoms of active TB includes- chronic cough with blooded mucus, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.
  • It is of two types:
  1. Active TB– TB germs reproduce and spreads in body, causing tissue damage.
  2. Latent TB– TB germs are asleep in the body. It can last for a very long time.

Key Facts

  • One quarter of the world’s population is supposed to have latent infection with TB as of 2018.
  • Each year, 1% of the population get infected from it.
  • Most TB cases recorded in South-East Asia (44%), Africa (24%) and the Western Pacific (18%).
  •  India accounts for 27% of the cases in word as of 2018.

How does it spread?

The disease spread from one person to the other through the air when people having active TB cough, speak, spit, or sneeze. However, People with latent TB do not spread it.

Who are vulnerable to TB?

People diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and those who smoke are vulnerable to TB.

How TB is diagnosed?

For Active TB- Chest X-rays, microscopic examination and culture of body fluids.

For Latent TB- There is tuberculin skin test (TST) or blood tests.

Prevention

TB can be prevented,

  1. By screening those at high risk,
  2. Through early detection and treatment of cases, and
  3. By Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine.
  4. Treatment involves the use of multiple antibiotics for a long period of time.

Concerns

Presently, antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. The number of cases of  multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is increasing.

Initiatives in India to end TB

  1. India has committed to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025 which is five years ahead of the global target by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  2. National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme had been launched To align with the ambitious goal though it has been renamed to National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP).
  3. TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign was Launched In September 2019.
  4. The Nikshay Ecosystem which is a National TB information system and a one-stop solution to manage information of patients and monitor program activity.
  5. Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY) has been launched with an aim provide financial support to TB patients for their nutritional needs.
  6. Saksham Project started by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to provide psycho-social counselling to DR-TB patients.