India and Tuberculosis

In this article we will discuss India and Tuberculosis

In this article, we will discuss India and Tuberculosis. So, let’s get started.

India and Tuberculosis

  • As per WHO’s Global TB Report 2021, India reported 18 lakh TB cases in 2020 compared to 24 lakh cases in 2019.
  • With a total estimated incidence of 25.9 lakh TB cases, India is home to a quarter of the global burden of the disease.
  • In India, the TB case fatality ratio increased from 17% in 2019 to 20% in 2020.
  • Since 2016, India has been on a mission mode to eliminate TB by 2025, five years ahead of the global target.
  • With a four-fold increase in the budget to tackle the disease and a patient-centric National Strategic Plan for TB elimination, India had taken enormous strides towards reaching its goal.

Similarities and Differences between TB and Covid-19

  • Covid-19 and Tuberculosis (TB) are remarkably similar in the context that they are both transmissible, airborne infections.
  • Both are more likely to spread in crowded settings, and harm people with immuno-compromising conditions.
  • However, between 2010-20, 1.5-2 million individuals died every year because of tuberculosis, yet, the word “pandemic” was seldom used in the context of TB.
  • The amount of money spent by governments for research and development in the first 11 months of the Covid-19 pandemic was 162 times the corresponding amount spent on TB in 2020.
  • TB disproportionately affects people in low-income nations, the poor and the vulnerable.

Impact of Covid-19 on TB Elimination

  • Increase in Missing Cases: The increased burden on healthcare to manage Covid- 19 has led to a serious setback in TB control. In the past two years, case detection has dropped, leading to an increase in the proportion of the “missing cases” of TB.
  • According to the Global TB Report 2021, an 18% decline in case notifications is perhaps the biggest indicator of the pandemic’s impact on global tuberculosis programmes.
  • Lockdowns and Economic Distress: Fear of Covid- 19 lockdowns and economic stress discouraged people from visiting medical facilities to get tested.
  • This exacerbated the pre-existing health-seeking behaviour of people who, under normal circumstances too, would shy away from getting medical care.
  • Access to Medicines: For those diagnosed, access to medicines has not always been easy and during Covid-19, it became worse.
  • Understaffing in TB Healthcare Facilities: The redirection of human resources within the health system during the three Covid waves has left TB facilities understaffed leading to poorer quality and delayed care.
  • Reactivation of TB Bacterium: Studies have suggested that Covid may trigger pathways leading to reactivation of dormant TB bacilli.
  • The tubercle bacillus (or Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is a small, rod-shaped bacterium that can survive for months in a state of dryness and can also resist the action of mild disinfectants.

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