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News: COVID-19 pandemic put health systems under great stress. The government announced a policy to bolster public health by pledging four new national virology institutes, nine new high containment laboratories and the National Institute of one health. Unfortunately, it did not address other infectious diseases like tuberculosis.
|Read here: COVID-19 reverses decades of progress in TB elimination, India worst-hit: WHO|
What is the challenge posed by tuberculosis in India?
According to WHO’s global TB report 2021, with 25.9 lakh TB cases, India is home to 25% of the global tuberculosis cases. India reported an 18% decline in case notifications. The country reported 18 lakh tuberculosis cases in 2020 as compared to 24 lakh in 2019.
Fear of Covid lockdowns, economic stress discouraged people from visiting medical facilities to notify of the disease and to get treatment.
|Read here: Fewer TB deaths in India: WHO:|
What steps have been taken for TB elimination?
India has increased the budget to tackle disease by four times. The National Strategic Plan for TB elimination has taken initiatives towards the elimination of TB by 2025. TB elimination also requires an increased level of awareness among people.
|Read here: Eliminating Tuberculosis (TB)|
The government has organized Active Case Finding (ACF) drives Under the National TB elimination programme. This drive is implemented systematic screening of TB among vulnerable populations and has helped in early case detection. During the pandemic in 2020, 17.9 crore people were screened and 52,273 TB cases were identified.
What should be the way forward?
A sense of community ownership and public participation is intrinsic to any TB elimination programme. Collectively, through a Jan Andolan against TB, the goal of TB Mukta Bharat can be achieved.
|Read here: Health Ministry explores AI for combating tuberculosis|
Source: This post is based on the article “We can’t afford to neglect TB care” published in the Indian Express on 10th January 2022.