Health-conscious Indians, are you aware that India has made significant progress in its battle against TB? Wait before you rejoice, as the country still accounts for 27 per cent of the overall global total. In fact, the Global Tuberculosis Report 2019 cites that nearly 10 million people fall ill with tuberculosis (TB) each year. The report categorically establishes that TB is one of the top 10 causes of death, ranking above HIV/ AIDS. Most disturbing, TB can affect anyone anywhere, but about 90 per cent people who develop TB are adults. Globally, about 1.7 billion people are infected with M. tuberculosis, which means they are at risk of developing the disease.
Another rising challenge pertains to drug-resistant TB, which poses a direct threat to global TB care & prevention. Clearly, it remains a major public health concern in many countries.
From 1998 to 2015, the concept of a high burden country, or HBC, became widely used in the context of TB. In 2015, three HBC lists came into prevalence – one is for TB, second is for HIV-associated TB and third is for MDR-TB. While 48 countries appear in at least one of them, 14 countries are in all three lists. These include Angola, China, Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Thailand and Zimbabwe.
Of this, eight countries accounted for two-thirds of the global total as given in the break up below:
- India (27%)
- China (9%)
- Indonesia (8%)
- Philippines (6%)
- Pakistan (6%)
- Nigeria (4%)
- Bangladesh (4%), and
- South Africa (3%)
For India, there has been significant progress in its battle against TB. However, as the aforementioned report indicates, India accounts for about 27 per cent of the global total, followed by China (9%) and Indonesia (8%).
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Experts hold a positive outlook as the report indicates that the number of patients with TB in India is decreasing. Indeed, this spells good news and demonstrates India’s serious commitment, determination and political will to battle the disease. Progress, however, is still too slow and the urgency to tackle it at a much faster rate is indeed the need of the hour.