Will India be able to curb TB by 2025?

By Nabeela Khan Inayati

Published on 27 , March, 2018

The government says it wants to achieve the ambitious target of eliminating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025 from India, five years ahead of the global target. But the bigger question is will India be able to curb the deadly disease which causes more annual deaths than HIV.

The highest political commitment was reaffirmed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently when he launched a campaign to eradicate TB from India.

According to World Health Organisation, elimination of TB will mean there should be less than one case of TB for a population of 10 lakh by 2025. Also, to eradicate the deadly disease, WHO in its latest report estimated that India will need to invest at least US$ 3.4 billion in tuberculosis control over the next five years to have substantial impact on TB.

The National Strategic Plan For Tuberculosis Elimination (NSP) proposes bold strategies along with adequate resources to decline rate of TB in India by 2030 in line with the global End TB targets and Sustainable Development Goal’s. Yet, the incidence of TB has reduced from 289 per lakh per year in 2000 to 217 per lakh per year in 2015, and mortality due to TB has also reduced from 56 per lakh per year in 2000 to 36 per lakh per year in 2015.

According to the NSP report, countries have repeatedly demonstrated that TB can be controlled in the modern era, as long as TB is diagnosed early and treated properly and transmission is interrupted.

But India is facing a challenge of delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment. The two drugs required to treat multi-drug resistant TB is currently available to only very few of India’s 1.3 lakh drug-resistant tuberculosis patients because they are under patent by their manufacturers.

Globally, the rates of TB actually dropped in 2016. Even in India, there was a 12 per cent drop in the number of deaths from TB.  Yet, there is no improvement in overall burden. To know the actual condition, here is a snapshot of the most recent data available with government on the TB crisis in India. 

A look at statistics reflects that TB is still widespread in India and all 29 states continue to suffer from the epidemic.  Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh recorded the maximum number of TB cases in the year 2016.  This is further substantiated by Global TB Report 2017 released by WHO which says India has the highest number of TB cases in the world.

Data and recent reports clearly highlights that India needs to fasten its pace to eradicate the disease and pump in huge amount of funds to achieve this ambitious target.