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TB still top infectious killer worldwide, say experts

Ajita Singh | New Delhi |

Despite progress over the last few decades, Tuberculosis continues to be the top infectious killer worldwide claiming over 4500 lives a day and poses a major health security threat due to the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), according to experts on eve of the World Tuberculosis Day.

According to the World Health Organisation, TB accounts for 95% of the deaths that occur in low and middle income countries.

Seven countries account for 64% of the total deaths, with India in the lead (Global TB Report 2017), followed by Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa. In India, an estimated 27.9 lakh patients are suffering from TB and about 4.23 lakh patients are estimated to have died during the year (2016).

Tuberculosis is a national burden which needs to be treated at the earliest. The disease was solely responsible for more than 4.5 lakh deaths in India in 2015.

Every year, on 24 March, World Tuberculosis Day is observed with the objective of spreading awareness about the disease.

This year the theme is ‘Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world’ which emphasises on enabling all stakeholders to build strategies and programmes committed to end tuberculosis.

Dr Animesh Arya, senior consultant in Respiratory Medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, said, “India is among the most affected countries in the world when it comes to tuberculosis, comprising 25% of the global TB cases. Late detection and improper or incomplete treatment might cause MDR TB, meningitis or CNS TB, chronic or suppurative lung disease, etc. Patients with symptoms of TB must visit the doctor at the earliest as with proper treatment it can be cured.”

According to Dr Sweta Gupta, Clinical Director and Sr. Consultant – Fertility Solutions, Medicover Fertility, “Tuberculosis causes tubal damage, resulting in rigid, pipe like tubes which further impairs transport of egg from the ovary. TB also causes endometrial damage (lining of the uterus where embryo implants) in 50-75% of cases of genital T.B. When endometrium is damaged due to TB, it may lead to recurrent implantation failure, miscarriage and recurrent pregnancy loss. TB infection can also result in decreased ovarian reserve (reduced number and quality of eggs) which further causes subfertility in women with genital tuberculosis”.

The Government of India has also taken some proactive steps to ‘End-TB by 2025’under the “Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme’, said Dr Arya.

In order to reduce the pill burden, a daily treatment regimen consisting of a fixed dose combination has been established. Universal drug susceptibility testing for drug resistance in all TB diagnosed patients will also be done and newer drugs will be introduced in hospitals.

There will be an allocation of additional funds for TB patients ~ Rs. 500 per month as nutritional support during the course of treatment. Several digital initiatives would also be created for the seamless integration of TB related services.