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More TB cases being reported but yet to reach pre-pandemic levels: Health ministry report

PM Modi released ‘India TB Report 2023’ in Varanasi along with an initiative which enlists village councils to help combat the disease. TB, he said, will be eradicated in India by 2025.

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New Delhi: The number of tuberculosis (TB) cases being reported, which had reached a trough in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic, has started picking up again but is yet to reach the 2019 level of 176.2 cases per lakh population, a report from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shows. 

The ‘India TB report 2023’, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi released Friday at the ‘One World TB’ event held in Varanasi to mark World Tuberculosis Day, shows that notifications for the disease currently stand at 172 cases per lakh population. 

It had gone down to 131.5 cases per lakh population in 2020, according to the report.

“The year 2022 marks a milestone year for TB surveillance efforts in India, with a record high notification of 24.2 lakh cases; an increase of 13 per cent as compared to 2021,” said the report, which is part of the Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyan — the Modi government’s programme to eliminate tuberculosis. “This translates to a case notification rate of approximately 172 cases per lakh population. The period also saw the highest private TB case notifications achieved so far, 7.3 lakhs.” 

The total number of MDR/RR (multidrug-resistant or rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis) TB cases diagnosed in 2022 is 63,801, the health ministry report said. 

“Sustaining the momentum of finding missed TB patients by strengthening case-finding efforts (both passive and active case finding) led to the above achievement under the programme. In 2022, the presumptive TB examination rate (PTBER) for the country rose to 1281 per lakh population (68 per cent increase) from 763 in 2021,” the report said.

India made tuberculosis a ‘notifiable’ disease in 2012, making it mandatory for cases to be reported to government authorities. At 26 per cent, India has the highest burden of tuberculosis and the rule was to ensure that no case falls out of the system.

In 2018, the Modi government started the Nikshay Poshan Yojana to provide nutritional support of Rs 500 a month for the disease.

India’s crowded living conditions, pollution, and low nutrition levels along with the high incidence rate mean most Indians carry the bacteria but can fend off the disease while their immunity levels are good. It’s for this reason that any dip in TB notifications is usually a cause for concern. 

The report also made a mention of Nikshay Mitras, a Government of India project that enables anyone in the public to adopt tuberculosis patients and provide for their nutritional and medical needs.

Till 1 January, 2023, more than 58,000 Nikshay Mitras (or donors) have come forward and committed to supporting more than 9 lakh TB-affected people, the report said. 

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TB-Mukt Panchayats

The Varanasi event also saw the prime minister launch the ‘TB-Mukt Panchayat’ initiative to “leverage the support of over 2.5 lakh gram panchayats to raise awareness about TB, eliminate the stigma attached to the disease and help monitor and improve uptake of services”, a government press release said. 

Modi also announced that India will eliminate TB by 2025 — five years before the global deadline of 2030.

A new preventive therapy was also launched to prevent the development of active TB, thereby stemming the spread of the disease. 

Active tuberculosis is a condition in which mycobacterium, the bacteria causing the disease, multiplies and causes an infection. By contrast, latent TB means that the bacteria is dormant.  

A family-centric care model was also announced at the Varanasi event to ensure the well-being of TB-affected families.

The new prevention programme, Modi said, would require patients to take the medicine only once a week for three months instead of every day for a period of six months. 

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: More and more Indian women are becoming anaemic, rise steepest in Assam, J&K, Ladakh


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