India Might Eradicate Tuberculosis by 2025
Tuberculosis kills almost half a million people in India every year.
Tuberculosis (TB), a life-threatening disease, has been a chronic health issue in the Indian sub-continent for over five decades. While efforts have been made to tackle the disease, there has been minimal progress towards complete eradication of TB in India. The dire state of affairs is also reflected in the new national estimates which suggest that the annual cases reported have now gone up to 2.8 million, and the mortality rate is nearly half a million people each year.
In light of these recent developments, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India has set out on an ambitious mission to eradicate TB from India by 2025. The National Strategic Plan (2017-2025) plans on attaining a quick decline in burden of TB, morbidity and mortality rates while also working towards elimination of TB by 2025.
While National Strategic Plan (NSP) was unveiled in 2017, the official announcement about the scheme was made at the End-TB Summit in New Delhi, India on 13th March 2018. Inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, the End-TB Summit marked the clarion call for all stakeholders and state governments to come together to make this ambitious goal of ending TB a reality.
Formulated in line with the World Health Organisation’s "End TB" strategy and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), NSP aims to focus on certain key loopholes in India’s current strategy to tackle TB.
The scheme will set patient-friendly systems in place, which will offer not just medical but social support. It aims to achieve 100% detection rate of TB by 2020 and target patients across both private and public sectors. The scheme will also actively work towards making free medicines more accessible, reducing dependency on walk-in patients and actually doing targeted detection tests.
Most importantly, the scheme will follow a four-pillared approach of “Detect, Treat, Prevent, and Build” (DTPB), under which they will “Detect” all T.B patients, “Treat” all patients irrespective of where they seek care, i.e. private or public healthcare, “Prevent” emergence of T.B in susceptible population groups, and “Build” empowered institutions and human resources to streamline implementation. The scheme also plans to increase the availability of ‘Bedaqualine’, a drug to treat regular drug resistant TB.
Digital efforts are also being made to monitor the progress of the scheme as well to make treatment and information easily accessible to large numbers. E-Nikshay, an existing digital platform to monitor patients is being made more user-friendly for both doctors as well as patients.
The Indian government is dedicating direct attention to the menace of TB and if schemes like NSP are implemented with concerted efforts, India’s goal to be TB free by 2025 wouldn’t be an overambitious one!