New Delhi: Ten million people are suffering from tuberculosis globally, and India accounts for around 27 per cent of these cases, according to a report released by the World Health Organization Thursday evening. India registered around 27,00,000 TB cases in 2018 and tops the list of countries where the disease is prevalent.
Tuberculosis is a contagious disease caused by bacteria and has been identified by the WHO as one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
Second to India is China with 9 per cent TB cases, followed by Indonesia with 8 per cent, Philippines and Pakistan with 6 per cent each, Nigeria and Bangladesh with 4 per cent each, and South Africa with 3 per cent.
These eight countries account for two thirds of the world’s total TB cases, the report stated.
At 27 per cent, WHO noted, India had the highest number of multi-drug resistant TB cases — followed by China at 14 per cent and Russia at 9 per cent.
TB cases down in India in 2018
The WHO report noted an encouraging trend in India. It said the total TB incidence rate in India has decreased in the last one year.
“In 2017, India had 27.4 lakh TB patients, which came down to 26.9 lakh in 2018,” the report said.
The trend is significant as the Narendra Modi government has set a target of year 2025 to rid India of tuberculosis — five years ahead of the target set under the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
India has largest burden of multi-drug resistant TB
Out of the 10 million TB cases in the world, the WHO report said, 7 million were notified and the rest 3 million were non-notified.
‘Notification’ of TB cases means that the disease is reported to the relevant health authorities, which then report to WHO. Once the disease is notified, it helps patients to avail free, timely and quality treatment — improving chances of their survival and recovery.
In India, only 19.9 lakh out of the 26.9 lakh TB patients were notified.
Though the global gap between notified and non-notified TB cases has been narrowing, ten countries account for 80 per cent of the total global gap, with India leading the list.
India contributes 25 per cent to the list of 3 million ‘missing’ TB patients, followed by Nigeria with 12 per cent, Indonesia with 10 per cent and Philippines 8 per cent — these countries together account for more than half of the global total.
According to the report, India also has the largest burden of multi-drug resistant TB, known as the MDR TB. This form of TB makes a patient’s body resistant to several drugs.
As far as TB treatment is concerned, success rate is 50 per cent lower in India, Indonesia, Mozambique and Ukraine due to high rates of death and failure of the patients to go for treatment follow-up, the report stated.
2018 saw a decrease in number of TB deaths globally
The report said the burden of TB remains high among low-income countries.
Geographically, most TB cases in 2018 were in the WHO regions of Southeast Asia (44 per cent) followed by Africa (24 per cent) and the Western Pacific (18 per cent), with smaller percentages in the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe.
The report, however, brought hope and cheer to health professionals, who are working to eliminate TB worldwide. It said that more people received life-saving treatment for TB in 2018 than ever before, all because of early detection and better diagnosis.
Across the globe, 7 million people were diagnosed and treated for TB — slightly more than the 6.4 million figure in 2017.
The report also noted that 2018 registered a decrease in the number of TB deaths — from 1.6 million deaths in 2017 to 1.5 million in 2018.
In a press statement, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Today, we mark the passing of the first milestone in the effort to reach people who’ve been missing out on services to prevent and treat TB.”