New Delhi: India notified the highest number of 24.04 lakh tuberculosis cases last year as against an estimated 26.9 lakh cases by WHO, indicating that around three lakh patients missed out from the national TB programme, according to an annual report on the disease released on Wednesday.
The India TB Report 2020 stated that 79,144 deaths due to tuberculosis were reported in 2019, which is much lower than the WHO estimate of 4.4 lakh fatalities, officials said.
According to them, the “missing cases” — the gap between estimated incidences and notified cases — has drastically reduced from over 10 lakh in 2017 to 2.9 lakh in 2019 through greater engagement with private healthcare sector along with other initiatives.
Around 24.04 lakh TB patients were notified in 2019, registering 14 per cent increase over the previous year while the private sector saw an increase of around 35 per cent with 6.78 lakh tuberculosis patients notified, officials said.
Launching the annual report, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan commended the collective efforts of all involved in the task, and said the government was committed to eliminating tuberculosis from the country by 2025, five years ahead of the global target.
To align with the ambitious goal, the programme has been renamed from Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) to National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP), he said.
On the basis of the score in State TB Index, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh were the top three best-performing states for tuberculosis control under the category of states with 50 lakh population.
Tripura and Nagaland were best-performing in the category of states having less than 50 lakh population. Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu were selected as the best performing Union Territories.
“The ranking will surely encourage all states and UTs to improve their performance to attain their targets. Early accurate diagnosis followed by prompt appropriate treatment is vital for ending TB. The National TB Elimination Programme has expanded both the laboratory network as well as diagnostic facilities to cover the entire country,” Vardhan said.
About the stigma attached to TB patients in the country, which is hampering the fight against the disease, Vardhan said, “We as a nation, need to come together to fight tuberculosis and the stigma surrounding it so that every TB patient can seek care with dignity and without discrimination. The community must act as a wellspring of support and comfort for a patient.”
He underscored the crucial contribution the private sector can make to the national TB programme by mandatory tuberculosis notification and providing quality care.
The salient feature of this year is that for the first time Central TB Division (CTD) introduced a quarterly ranking on TB elimination efforts by all the states and UTs.
Treatment linkage of drug-resistant TB patients, HIV testing of tuberculosis patients, nutritional assistance to in the form of NIKSHAY Poshan Yojana (DBT), Universal Drug Susceptibility Testing (UDST) coverage among notified patients, TB Preventive Therapy (TPT) coverage and financial expenditure are included in the assessment criteria, the Union health minister said.
According to the report, similar to the previous year’s trends over half of the total TB cases were notified from five states — Uttar Pradesh 20 per cent, Maharashtra nine per cent, Madhya Pradesh eight per cent, Rajasthan and Bihar both seven per cent.
Due to easy availability of molecular diagnostics, the proportion of children diagnosed with TB increased to eight per cent in 2019 compared to six per cent in 2018, the ministry said in a statement.
Also, the provision of HIV testing for all notified TB patients increased from 67 per cent in 2018 to 81 per cent in 2019, it said.
Expansion of treatment services has resulted in a 12 per cent improvement in the treatment success rate of notified patients. For 2019, it is 81 per cent compared to 69 per cent the previous year.