Each year the World Tuberculosis Day is commemorated on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis (TB) and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.
Despite significant progress over the last decades, TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Each day, over 4000 people lose their lives to TB and close to 28,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 63 million lives since the year 2000. The emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) poses a major health security threat and could risk gains made in the fight against TB.
TB is deeply rooted in populations where human rights and dignity are limited. While anyone can contract TB, the disease thrives among people living in poverty, communities and groups that are marginalized, and other vulnerable populations.
These include: migrants, refugees, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, the elderly, marginalized women and children in many settings etc. Factors such as malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and diabetes, affect vulnerability to TB and access to care. Furthermore, this access is often hindered by catastrophic costs associated with illness, seeking and staying in care, and lack of social protection, resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health. The transmission of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) adds great urgency to these concerns.
Source : WHO
TB is the leading infectious killer in India. There were an estimated 26,40,000 people with TB in 2019, with over 89823 people succumbing to the disease, including those with TB and HIV.
The government has launched the "TB Free India Campaign" to address the challenge of TB in mission mode to eliminate TB in India by 2025. To achieve 'End TB' targets, the Government has rolled out a "National Strategic Plan (NSP) to end TB by 2025". The NSP adopts a multi-pronged approach which aims to ‘Detect’ all TB patients with an emphasis on reaching TB patients seeking care from private providers and undiagnosed TB in high-risk populations, ‘Treat’ all patient irrespective of where they seek care adopting a patient centric approach, ‘Prevent’ emergence of TB in susceptible population groups and ‘Build’ empowered institutions and human resources to streamline implementation.
Government support to eradicate TB
The Indian government has a National TB programme since 1962; however, after reviewing its effectiveness, the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) was rolled out in phases from 1998. Through the RNTCP, the government provides high-quality free diagnosis, free drugs and free treatment throughout the country.
In April 2018, the government initiated the Nikshay Poshan Yojana – a scheme for nutrition support to TB patients. The scheme provides a financial incentive of Rs. 500 to each notified TB patient through Direct Benefits Transfer for the duration for which the patient is on treatment. All TB patients notified and registered on the Nikshay portal on or after April 1, 2018 and existing TB patients on treatment are eligible to avail of this benefit.
Mandatory notification of TB patients : The government issued a gazette notification making it mandatory for doctors, health practitioners and pharmacists to report cases of TB to National TB Programme. Non-compliance of this order could face a jail term of up to two years under sections 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
Source : Central TB Division