India tops in TB prevalence, drug resistance alarming: WHO

March 18th, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) India is number one in terms of tuberculosis (TB) prevalence and an alarming 17 percent patients have developed multi-drug resistance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Tuesday. The global body in its latest report said that 299 Indians in every 100,000 population are infected with TB and the mortality rate is 28 per 100,000.

Of all new cases in India, 1.2 percent are infected with HIV. While 2.8 percent of the new cases have been diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), 17 percent of patients who have availed treatment at some point have developed drug resistance.

The global health watchdog said the pace of TB control and diagnosis has slowed down across the world including India.

The report said there were 9.2 million new cases of TB during 2006, of which 700,000 cases are found among people with HIV/AIDS up from 22,000 in 2002.

Worldwide there are 500,000 cases of MDR-TB and an estimated 1.5 million people died from the disease in 2006. Another 200,000 people with HIV died from HIV-associated TB, WHO said.

“The Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) of India has begun to operate in parts of the country that are particularly challenging,” WHO said in its report.

“The introduction of MDR TB treatment as part of routine programme activities will succeed only if the planned sub-national reference laboratories function properly and if a reliable supply of high quality second-line drugs is available,” the global health watchdog cautioned.

WHO further said the plan to expand collaborative TB-HIV activities nationally would need to reflect in the local variations of HIV epidemiology.

“Assessing the impact of TB control in India will require careful analysis of the extensive and detailed data that are routinely collected by the RNTCP, in addition to recent and planned surveys of the prevalence of infection and disease,” WHO stressed it in its report.

The UN body said there are two aspects of the epidemic that could further slow progress in combating TB. The first is multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and “it has reached the highest levels ever recorded”.

“To date, however, the response to this epidemic has been inadequate. Given limited laboratory and treatment capacity, countries project they will provide treatment only to an estimated 10 percent of people with MDR-TB worldwide in 2008.

“The second threat to continued progress is the lethal combination of TB and HIV, which is fuelling the TB epidemic in many parts of the world, especially Africa.

“The report tells us that we are far from providing universal access to high-quality prevention, diagnostic, treatment and care services for HIV and TB,” said Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, the joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS.

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