Synopsis: The COVID 19 pandemic has given an opportunity to India for combating other respiratory diseases like Tuberculosis (TB). The learnings from the pandemic can be used to control the spread of TB.
- The first case of COVID 19 was reported on 30th January 2020. After that, the disease claimed the lives of 1,54,000 people and infected 10.7 million in India.
- However, with robust efforts, the government managed to control its spread. Due to this, the country is not facing a brutal second wave as suffered by other countries.
- The number of active cases is decreasing since mid-September and people are getting back to their normal lives.
- The focus should now be shifted to other respiratory diseases like TB.
- It is a contagious infection that usually attacks your lungs. But can infect other parts like your brain and spine.
- It is a bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and affecting mankind for 3000 years.
- Furthermore, it is a disease with the ability to damage multiple organs which enhances mortality risks.
Issues with Tuberculosis:
As per World Health Organisation (WHO), India has more than 10 million active cases of TB. 4 lakh lives are lost per year due to TB and shares 1/4th of the global burden.
- First, It causes a disproportionate impact on the poor who live in overcrowded spaces and lack proper nutrition.
- Second, numerous myths and stigma are associated with the disease which discourages reporting and proper treatment.
- Third, it has become very difficult to control if multi-drug resistance gets developed or a person is already suffering from diabetes or HIV.
Using COVID 19 Lessons to combat TB:
- First, the PM must take a lead to sensitize the masses about the disease. It was done by him in the case of COVID 19, to induce behaviour change.
- Second, the concept of physical distancing can be effective in curtailing the spread. The droplets from one person will not reach another if the due distance is maintained.
- Third, patients, as well as nearby family members, must wear masks to curb the spread of infection.
- Fourth, improved detection techniques developed during COVID can be used to replace the traditional sputum tests. This would ensure better diagnosis and quick results.
- Fifth, in order to improve tracking and contact tracing, the focus should be on instant notification techniques.
- Sixth, awareness is developed around respiratory diseases. It can be used to build community-led participation and burst the stigma surrounding TB.
- Lastly, the enthusiasm shown by media and coordination shown by governments in tackling COVID-19 should also be carried forward to TB.
India has set a target TB elimination by 2025 which is 5 years prior to the sustainable development goals target. This can be achieved if COVID 19 learnings are aptly adopted in combating TB.