The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare commemorated World TB Day with a function to mark the occasion, and reiterated the commitment to eliminating Tuberculosis(TB) in the country by 2025

The theme: The theme of the World TB Day 2020 - ‘It’s time’ - puts the accent on the urgency to act on the commitments made by global leaders to:

  1. scale up access to prevention and treatment;
  2. build accountability;
  3. ensure sufficient and sustainable financing including for research;
  4. promote an end to stigma and discrimination, and
  5. promote an equitable, rights-based and people-centered TB response.

What is TB?

  • TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Each day, over 4000 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease.
  • Caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis, TB is an infectious disease. In most cases, TB affects the lungs (pulmonary TB) but can also affect other sites(non-pulmonary TB).
  • It is a contagion disease, which spreads when the people who are sick with pulmonary TB expel bacteria into the air, for example by coughing.
  • Rapid molecular test, Sputum smear microscopy, Culture-based methods are some of the diagnostic tests for TB.
  • Without treatment, the mortality rate from TB is high.
  • Infants and aged people are at a greater risk of catching TB infections.

Initiatives of WHO:

  • Find. Treat. All. #EndTB: A joint initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO)with the Global Fund and Stop TB Partnership, with the aim of accelerating the TB response and ensuring access to care, in line with WHO’s overall drive towards Universal Health Coverage. 
  • A global TB report: Published by the WHO every year since 1997.

Initiatives in India:

  1. There is a free treatment of TB in India.
  2. India aims to eliminate TB by 2025 under the National Strategic Plan(NSP) for TB Elimination, while the UN aims to eliminate TB by 2030.
  3. Mass BCG vaccination to prevent TB.
  4. Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) was launched in 1993, offering free diagnosis and treatment for patients, rescuing them from otherwise sure death.
  5. A Rs 12,000 cr allocation of fund over the next 3 years to fight TB.
  6. A public campaign: TB Harega Desh Jeetega.

Key changes introduced in the policy landscape of TB:

India is now closest ever to covering all TB cases with 21.5 lakh new TB patients notified in 2018. With the aim of universal access to free diagnostics and treatment services, path breaking policy changes have been introduced. 

  • Universal drug susceptibility testing has been rolled out, shorter and newer treatment regimen has been expanded countrywide. India is moving towards an injection free regimen. 
  • Private sector engagement has been elevated as one of the highest priorities with strengthened regulatory measures, collaborative incentives and scale up of successful Patient Provider Support Agency (PPSA) interventions which led to a 35% increase in TB notification from the private sector. 
  • The Nikshay Poshan Yojana has benefited 15 lakh TB patients for nutrition support with Rs. 240 cores disbursed as DBT since April 2018. 
  • A comprehensive call centre (1800-11-6666) for information, addressing grievance, patient linkages and provider relationship has been established. 
  • Institutional system of award for TB free status has been introduced to generate federal competitiveness, motivate and to bring about proactive actions from States and Districts. As on date, 15 lakh patients have been initiated in the Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) regime. 
  • TB forums at various levels in the states have been formed to remove stigma and to create awareness about the symptoms of the disease and the free treatment available at the government health facilities. 
  • 1180 CBNAAT labs have been made operational throughout the country, along with 4 lakh treatment support centres at the village level. 

These efforts have resulted in an increase from 25% to 83% in the treatment success rates (2017-2018), and the TB prevalence rates have come down from 29% to 4%. 

Need of the hour:

  • More sensitive and responsive doctors, paramedics, frontline health workers and community partners, while dealing with TB patients. 
  • The systems of care for TB patients should be patient-centric, and sympathetic to their wellbeing, she emphasised. 
  • Strengthening PHCs.India has been able to be free of Polio, Yaws, MNTE due to the sturdy health systems, especially at the primary healthcare levels. 
  • The partnerships with all stakeholders hold the key to making India TB-free.

Also readKerala On Track To Eliminate TB By 2025

Health Ministry Commemorates World TB Day (Summary)