Numbers of unreported TB cases fall but other challenges remain: Venkaiah Naidu

M Somasekar Hyderabad | Updated on November 04, 2019

It is estimated that 4.2 lakh people died of TB during 2018. Representative image   -  Reuters

The number of ‘Missing Cases’ of tuberculosis (TB) or those unreported, in 2018 in India was 5.5 lakh, according to official statistics.

The good news on the TB control front is that the figure has dropped significantly from earlier years of 10 lakh plus. In another year, it should reduce to 3.5 lakh, claimed KS Sachdeva, Deputy Director General of the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP), under the Union Ministry of Health.

It is estimated that 4.2 lakh people died of TB during 2018, which is more than the combined mortality from malaria and HIV. Around 27 lakh were afflicted, of whom about 10 lakh did not get adequate or proper diagnosis or treatment.

The bigger issue that surfaced was that around three lakh children under the age of 15 acquired TB through contact with an affected member in the family. Urging that this trend has to be addressed on a war footing, Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu batted for reaching affordable treatment to the needy. Costs should be brought down on priority, he said.

The positive news though, is that the incidence of TB was coming down to an annual rate of 1.7 per cent, thanks to the sustained efforts being made by the RNTCP, the Vice President said at the inauguration of the International Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad, recently.

Private sector role

With the ambitious target of eliminating TB by 2025, the government is leading a strong, multi-fold strategy. As part of this strategy, efforts are on to involve corporates in it. So far, about 60 large and small corporates have committed to the cause, though in terms of finances it’s quite small, said Sachdeva.

The focus will be on controlling TB at the workplace in the corporate sector. Steps have also been initiated and the Union Ministry of Labour is cooperating in addressing issues with the labour force. Next month, a meeting of all public sector undertakings has been called to extend the programme, he told BusinessLine.

TB Champs

In the past few years, the national outreach programme has been able to create a TB Forum in all the districts of the country. It consists of survivors, who volunteer to help others. They are being trained as TB Champions (TB Champs).

The objective is to get feedback and also involve them in the control programmes and policy formulation as their field experience is critical in effective implementation of treatment, awareness and overall results, he added.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention runs a TB elimination Champions project. It provides an opportunity to recognise accomplishments and best practises from people who are contributing to preventing TB in the US.

In addition to reaching medical support, the national programme is also dovetailing the importance of proper nutrition to the patients, during and after the treatment. A target of 40 lakh people of all age groups has been set by 2022, Sachdeva said.

Published on November 04, 2019

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