India’s tuberculosis problem worse than previously assumed, says study

More than 3 million Indians could have TB

News - India & You


August 26, 2016

/ By / Kolkata

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TB is a serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs and is prevalent in India.

TB is a serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs and is prevalent in India.

India has about two to three times higher number of cases of tuberculosis (TB) than current official estimates show, a new study published on Thursday in the Lancet Journal suggests.

Putting the estimate to two to three times higher than the current, a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal shows that the incidence of TB in India is much more rampant than it has been considered. The reportedly inaccurate figures that had been given earlier had not comprehensively taken into account various factors that determined the new found figures, according to this study.

The study was conducted by a team that comprised of researchers from Imperial College London, the Indian government’s Revised National TB Control Programme (launched in 1997), the World Health Organisation, among other organisations. The inferences drawn, as presented in the Journal, were based on a number of factors. This included a detailed analysis of drug sales data, as it has been observed that there are discrepancies in the number of cases being reported, mostly because a sizable amount of people opt for private healthcare options that are irregular in reporting tuberculosis cases to public health officials.

Previously, it had been assumed by official estimates that there were close to 1.4 million cases of TB in India in the year 2014, but this study has revealed that the figure could stand at 3.8 million as of 2014, without taking into account drug-resistant TB cases. The study estimated, on the basis of drug sales, that in the private sector alone there were around 2.2 million cases of TB, which pushed the numbers to such a high. This was calculated on the sales figures of 189 tuberculosis drugs that are marketed only in the private sector.

Large scale problem

In 2014, close to 9.6 million cases of TB were reported worldwide and 1.5 million people deaths were directly linked to the disease, with India reporting the highest number of cases. India accounts for close to a quarter of reported cases of the disease, making the recently published study an alarming one as it revealed the extent of a problem as worse than it was previously understood.

Many other problems constitute the situation of healthcare in India, particularly for TB. As the country with the highest number of multi drug-resistant TB patients in the world, India is yet to provide optimal care for those affected with the disease.

There is no doubt that the under reporting TB and inadequate means to deal with the disease requires efforts of innovations and greater multi-sector cooperation. Collaboration with the private sector in healthcare is required to set viable plans and implement them if India seeks to be TB free in the coming decades.

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