One of the oldest diseases known to humankind, tuberculosis (TB) continues to remain a major public health problem. Newspatrolling notes that TB has progressively become more difficult to control even when significant progress has been made on the socio-economic front, clinical research and technological advancements. Even though it is a curable disease, there are millions of people who continue to be afflicted with this debilitating disease, many of whom succumb to the infection, leading to devastating social & economic impact.
The World TB Day, March 24
The World TB Day is held on March 24 every year and it seeks to spread awareness about tuberculosis. The World TB Day commemorates a path-breaking event in the history of humankind, when, in the year 1882, the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus, was discovered by Dr. Robert Koch. This was a significant discovery that had astounded the scientific community, primarily because TB was raging through Europe and the Americas at that time, resulting in high number of fatalities. Koch’s discovery provided that much-needed breakthrough humankind was looking for to diagnose and cure TB.
TB in India
As per data gathered by Newspatrolling from credible sources, the incidence of TB in India is approximately 2.2 million cases annually. When we compare this to World TB data, we see that India shares almost a quarter of TB cases diagnosed every year globally. Reports also indicate that nearly 40% of the Indian population carries the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, the bacterium that leads to TB in humans. However, a vast majority of such affected individuals have latent TB infection and not the TB disease.
The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP)
This is a nation-wide health program run by the Government of India. It seeks to make India “TB Free” through medical advisory, awareness campaigns and providing free diagnosis and treatment services throughout the country via its various health centers. RNTCP has a wide network of advanced laboratories, which enable it to provide top quality diagnostic services to millions of people, even those that may be living in the remotest parts of India. At present, RNTCP has around 13,000 microscopy centers for sputum smear microscopy and Culture and DST laboratories.
Since the time when it was launched, RNTCP has diagnosed and treated more than 17.4 million people. Due to the consistent efforts by RNTCP, TB prevalence has been reduced from 465 lakh per year in 1990 to 211 lakh per year in 2013; incidence of TB has come down from 216 lakh per year in 1990 to 171 lakh per year in 2013; and mortality has dropped from 38 lakh per year in 1990 to 19 lakh per year in 2013.
The rise of Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB)
Reports available with Newspatrolling reveal that one of the most critical challenges that the medial fraternity is facing today in the treatment of TB is the emergence of Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB). This form of TB is extremely fatal since it does not respond properly to the standard drug regime. Out of the 2.2 million people who are diagnosed with TB in India, around 70,000 cases involve MDR-TB.
However, there’s good news on this front with the launch of a new drug named Bedaquiline (trade name Sirturo), which has been tested in research studies to significantly improve MDR-TB treatment outcomes and reduce the fatality rate. The treatment has been rolled out under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP). Often called the ‘miracle drug’, Bedaquiline will be introduced in India in phases to properly evaluate its effectiveness in treating MDR-TB. In the first phase, 600 patients across the country will be administered this new drug and if results are good, it will be gradually introduced to more patients suffering from MDR-TB.
Let’s Unite to Stop TB
We, at Newspatrolling, believe that only our collective efforts can stop the spread of TB and help achieve the dream of a TB Free World. So, on this World TB Day, March 24, 2016, lets pledge to spread the word about TB among family and friends, and vow to give our full support, love and care to our near and dear ones who may be suffering from this devastating disease.