The Global TB report, recently released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has shown progress in fighting the disease but also indications of failure to achieve targets. There is an improvement in the number of people diagnosed with TB and treated for it after the disruptions caused by Covid. There is over 9% reduction in the number of cases between 2015 and 2022. But the world is certain to miss the target of 50% reduction in the incidence of the disease by 2025. TB remains the world’s second leading cause of death from a single infectious agent. The global number of people newly diagnosed with the disease was 7.5million in 2022. This is the highest number since WHO began global TB monitoring in 1995. India accounts for 27% of the total TB cases in the world, but it is one percentage point less than the previous year’s 28%. The country also has a mixed record in the management of the disease.
According to the report, India recorded about 28 lakh new cases in 2022, with one person diagnosed with TB every 11 seconds.But there has been a steady decrease in the incidence of the disease and in mortality in the last eight years. Diagnosis has improved and more cases are being reported. This has reduced the possibility of the disease spreading from those who are infected but not diagnosed. India’s TB mortality dropped from 4.94 lakh in 2021 to 3.31 lakh in 2022, reducing its share of global mortality from 36% in the past to 26% in 2022. India was only one of four countries among the 30 high-burden countries that achieved more than 80% treatment coverage. Coverage of treatment increased by 19% in the country.
TB is not just amedical issue. The problems in the detection of the disease and its incidence and treatment have social and economic dimensions because people from the lower strata of society are more affected than others. Though the treatment is State-supported, many people stop their treatment before full recovery. This often aggravates the condition. One other major challenge is the multi-drug resistant (MDR) variant of the disease. According to WHO, 1,19,000 new MDR cases are found in India each year and only half of them are reported. It is extremely difficult to treat MDR cases. Testing methods in the country are still traditional and these have to be improved to get better and more reliable results. The progress made in tackling the TB challenge is good but not enough, and much more needs to be done. The country is certain to miss the target of eliminating TB by 2025.
(Published 13 November 2023, 20:54 IST)