World TB Day: Everything you need to know about Tuberculosis

Nation Next Newsroom | Mar 24, 2018 6:00

On March 24, 1882, Dr Robert Koch discovered TB bacillus (the cause of tuberculosis). To mark the crucial discovery World TB Day is celebrated every year on March 24. The day is celebrated to raise the common public awareness of the disease, prevention of TB and to mobilize the political and social authorities for further progress towards the disease prevention. The World Health Organisation (WHO), like every year, has kept unique theme for the day, the theme being: Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world. You can make a history. End TB. Today, on World TB Day, Nation Next tells you about all the disease, its prevalence in India and the symptoms.

Prevalence of TB in India

Tuberculosis is one of the most common and infectious diseases in India. In 2016, TB was responsible for 1.7 million deaths worldwide, despite most of the cases being curable. Over 10 million people contract TB every year. The South-East Asia region, which hosts about one-fourth of the global population, shares a disproportionate 46% global TB disease burden. India accounts for one fourth of the global TB burden. In 2015, an estimated 28 lakh cases of TB were reported in India and 4.8 lakh people died due to TB.

Symptoms and spread of TB

The most common symptoms of TB include mild fever, chills, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and blood in sputum. TB can infect any part of the body but most commonly in the lungs. It gets transmitted from the infected person to another weak person through the droplets formed in the throat or lungs.When a person with active pulmonary TB coughs, sneezes, speaks or spits, they expel infectious aerosol droplets. A single sneeze can release up to 40000 droplets. People with prolonged frequent and close contact with patient suffering from TB are at a particularly high risk of contracting the disease. A person with active but untreated TB may infect 10-15 or more people per year.

Types of TB

Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) is a complicated type of TB caused by TB bacteria, which are resistant to the two most effective first line anti-TB drugs – Isoniazid and  Rifampicin. It is a serious public health issue, as its treatment is longer and more expensive. Extensive Drug Resistance TB (XDR-TB) is a complicated form of MDR-TB. Total Drug Resistant TB (TDR-TB) is caused by pathogen with resistance to all currently used drugs. A new drug Bedaquilinehas been introduced for the treatment of MDR-TB. However, it is very expensive.

India’s fight against TB

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and WHO hosted the Delhi End TB Summit, which was inaugurated March 13, 2018, by PM Narendra Modi and addressed by the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. PM Modi reaffirmed his government’s commitment to end TB in India by 2025 and stressed the need for all partners (public and private) and the civil society to come together to end TB in India. Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who is a survivor of TB, is now the ambassador of the ‘TB-Free India’ campaign.

Research on TB in Nagpur

KRIMS Hospitals, Nagpur, has elaborate research data of TB patients. A total of 570 patients were treated at the hospital for TB between 2012 and 2014. 41 of these patients were suffering from MDR TB and three patients were suffering from XDR-TB. As compared to similar time period from April 2016 onwards, a total of 308 patients were treated for TB. Out of these, 36 patients were suffering from MDR-TB while one patient was suffering from XDR-TB. This data reflects that the prevalence of TB is still on the rise and needs immediate attention from political and social authorities. Speaking about the research and treatment at KRIMS hospital, consultant pulmonologist Dr Sameer Arbat, who has done his fellowship in interventional pulmonology at Ancona, Italy, says, “Private sector hospitals are the first point of access for most TB patients. Most patients are hesitant to get the treatment because of the long duration of treatment and multiple medicines. At KRIMS, we provide free medication to all TB patients through the UATBC (Universal Access to TB Care) program and regularly conducting health awareness programs for combating the menace of TB.”