India has the most number of tuberculosis cases in the world: WHO

Despite major advancements in dealing with the threat of tuberculosis on a global level, the WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2013 points out the fact that there are still several issues which needs to be addressed before we can eradicate the disease. Here are some key findings of the report:

Tuberculosis in India

Of the total number of tuberculosis cases in the world, 2-2.5 million cases are from India alone. This makes us the most TB vulnerable nation in the world. There are various reasons for this including bad governance, huge urban settlements where people live cheek-by-jowl. Rough estimates suggest that even one undetected TB patient could affect 10-15 more people in one year. In early Jan 2012, Mumbai had a huge TB scare when 12 people were reported to be suffering from a totally drug resistant version of tuberculosis (resistant to four drugs), a potential epidemic waiting to happen.

Undetected cases

One of the major takeaways from the report was the fact that three million tuberculosis cases go undetected each year.  Of all the people suffering from the ailment, 33% of the population never receive treatment. The WHO believes that to adequately deal with the TB threat we need to reach these people.

Multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB Threat

The WHO estimated that 450,000 people suffered from a multi-drug resistant variety of TB with China, India and Russia accounting for the highest patients.  MDR-TB is a type of tuberculosis that is resistant to the first line of anti-TB drugs. . It is often caused because people stopping their medication midway instead of following the complete regimen as prescribed by the physician. It is spread in the same manner as tuberculosis. The WHO’s belief that drug-resistant TB is a major problem is completely justified as we’d be hard-pressed to design new drugs if the millions around the world were inflicted with drug-resistant TB.   ‘The unmet demand for a full-scale and quality response to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is a real public health crisis,’ says Dr Raviglione, the head of the WHO’s tuberculosis programme. ‘It is unacceptable that increased access to diagnosis is not being matched by increased access to MDR-TB care. We have patients diagnosed but not enough drug supplies or trained people to treat them. The alert on antimicrobial resistance has been sounded; now is the time to act to halt drug-resistant TB.’

Maintain funding

The current global funding to fight TB is around US$2 billion per year and it’s especially vital for low-income countries which rely heavily on international donor funding. To mount an able response, we will need to replenish the Global Fund so that there’s no let-up in the resources handed out to vulnerable countries.

The WHO is in line to meet its Millennium Development Goals but it will need to maintain the current pace and up its ante in some sectors to reach its goals. (Read: How you can prevent tuberculosis)

Source :      2013/10/26 08:24

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