By Mayank Jain:
Estimates from WHO predict 40% of the Indian population to be infected by some kind of TB virus, active or latent. The number of incidences of TB cases in the world are highest in India at 2.2 million cases in 2012. Worldwide, it is one of the most deadly diseases that take lives, second only to HIV. The good news is that the new cases are decreasing every year but almost 1% of the world’s population contracts Tuberculosis every year.
In the wake of this dire situation that calls for immediate intervention in the spread of the virus and preventing the loss of life, National forum on Tuberculosis convenes and continuously devises ways to plug further growth of the pandemic.
On February 25th, 2014, the forum put out a press release that marked its various efforts in arresting the spread of disease through awareness and action. The forum wrote to leading national and regional political parties and urged them to include TB in their respective election manifesto. It is a brilliant move to bring attention to the disease and make sure there is enough focus on eradicating it since elections are looming closer and political parties are most conducive to work in these few months when they are some steps away from being appointed to office.
The issue of TB is not a new one and the National Forum has been working on the same since last year. It was convened by Mr. Dalbir Singh, Head of Dept., All India Congress Committee, with the aim to highlight and discuss the critical challenges of TB control in India. He described the need for the forum in the following words,Â “TB is one of India’s gravest public health challenges and we have to combat it with enormous strategic vision, commitment and greater coordination between all stakeholders.”
The press release is an optimistic document that binds hope to action against this atrocity which claims life of an Indian every 2 minutes. The disease is also touted as the engine of poverty with a cost of 23.7 billion dollars to the exchequer. The menace of TB doesn’t just end there as discrimination and ostracization within the workplace and the community come along with it.
The statistics may be scary and the disease is life threatening but all hope is not lost. India’s DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment-Short Course) program is one of the largest programs in the world to directly intervene in the spread of TB and provides extensive care. The major challenges range from high population, lack of political will to curb the disease and above all, corruption. What we need is a concerted effort from all the stakeholders by shedding their competition and enmity for a while to work towards making India a Tuberculosis free country.