India has highest TB prevalence: WHO

March 24th, 2008 - 9:05 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) India is home to over 3.4 million tuberculosis patients - about one-fifth of the global figure - making it the most TB prevalent country, says the World Health Organisation (WHO) report released Monday. “India is the number one country in terms of TB prevalence and an alarming 17 percent of patients who have availed themselves of treatment earlier have developed multi-drug resistance (MDR),” the report said.

It revealed that 325,172 people in India had died of the disease in 2005 alone.

The WHO report “Tuberculosis in the Southeast Asia Region” said that in 2006, India recorded 1.9 million new cases. Across the globe, there were 9.2 million new cases of TB during the same period.

Of all fresh cases in the country, 1.2 percent were infected with HIV and 2.8 percent of all new cases have been diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Of the 1.9 million TB cases reported in 2006, 89,905 were those who had a relapse and had to take the treatment again, the report said.

Against all these figures, 30 percent of the cases were not even detected in the country, the report released on World TB Day said.

Nani Nair, WHO regional advisor in the department of communicable diseases, said many cases were not detected because most people were not covered under DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment, Short course), a central government programme that provides free medical assistance to TB patients.

But she denied that those not registered under DOTS were not getting any treatment.

“We are not saying that they are sitting at home. We have found that they are being treated by private doctors and are paying for their treatment, despite the government providing free treatment,” Nair told IANS.

“Unlike other countries, it is not mandatory in India for doctors to report TB cases,” she added.

The report said that the Southeast Asia region, with 4.97 million TB cases, carries over one-third of the global burden of TB.

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