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.