Over 325,000 Indians die of TB every year

March 23rd, 2008 - 11:44 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss
(March 24 is World TB Day)
By Prashant K. Nanda
New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) India is home to over 3.4 million tuberculosis patients at any time - about one-fifth of the global figure, making it the country with the most TB prevalence - and over 325,000 people die of the disease every year. According to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) report available here, 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 WHO report said that in 2006, India recorded 1.9 million new cases. Of all fresh cases in the country, 1.2 percent are infected with HIV and 2.8 percent of all new cases have been diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

“Progress in TB diagnosis and control is slowing across the world. The reason for this slowing of progress is that some national programmes that were making rapid strides during the previous five years have been unable to continue at the same pace,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan noted on the organisation’s website.

According to WHO, India’s Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) has been launched in parts of the country that need special focus but the implementation will be a challenge.

“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 UN body stressed.

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 in its report.

Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss earlier told IANS: “One in five new cases of TB in the world is in India and this remains an enormous burden on patients, families, communities and the nation.”

Authorities also said the combination of HIV and TB is compounding the problem in India. They said the TB and HIV coordination activities implemented jointly by the RNTCP have been scaled up to cover 14 states.

Across the globe, there were 9.2 million new cases of TB during 2006, of which 700,000 cases were found among the 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.

(Prashant K. Nanda can be contacted at Prashant.n@ians.in)

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