Context- The pandemic provides learning opportunity and opens up possibilities of accelerating Tuberculosis (TB) elimination venture.
More in news-
- Covid-19 has derailed the painstaking efforts of decades and diverted scientific attention from killer diseases like tuberculosis
- COVID-19 lockdowns have resulted in a 30 per cent decline in tuberculosis diagnosis and reporting.
- Researchers estimate that over the next five years, an additional 1.19 million TB cases and 3,61,000 TB deaths may occur in India.
What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.
- TB causes respiratory illness and spread from person to person through the air.
- Mortality rate of 13 per cent — far worse than the 1.3 per cent for COVID-19.
How combating COVID-19 pandemic can help eradicate TB?
- Raise the awareness of the general masses- The leaders and individuals have realized the devastation an infectious respiratory disease can cause.
- Behavioural changes– The changes acquired during the pandemic such as cough hygiene, use of masks, physical distancing will further help reduce the transmission of tuberculosis, which is a respiratory illness.
- Doctors and nurses will be less complacent about these measures.
- Raise investments in the healthcare sector– investments in health systems infrastructure, infection control equipment and personal protection equipment will ensure better airborne infection prevention and control.
- Boost testing scale-
- COVID-19 has changed the landscape of testing and surveillance.
- The speed of research on new COVID-19 tests and the scale at which testing was applied are lessons to be learned by TB programmes.
- Bi-directional” TB and COVID-19 testing – Greater identification of cases will lead to more persons being isolated and treated.
- Speed of vaccine development-
- The success of various COVID-19 vaccine platforms and the speed at which the vaccine has been brought to the market gives tremendous hope for TB vaccine candidates.
- Fast-tracking of research, advance purchasing, and research sharing by countries witnessed during the pandemic could apply to the TB vaccine.
- Several dedicated infectious diseases hospitals have come up as a part of the pandemic response measures, which would contribute in a major way towards tuberculosis care and management.
- The molecular diagnostic capacity has increased – These multi-platform devices based on cartridge and chip-based technology can decentralize TB diagnosis.
- COVID-19 has taught to prioritize public health as much as curative and preventive health.
- The increased uptake of telemedicine and teleconsultation during the pandemic will provide channels of consultation for tuberculosis
What is the way forward?
COVID-19 is likely to expedite the trajectory of TB elimination.
- COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity to boost TB elimination activities through health system strengthening and infectious diseases control.