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WHO's Recommended Treatment To Tackle Tuberculosis Not Yet Implemented

This new procedure recommended by WHO can reduce the treatment time period but has not yet been included in our National Policy.

WHO's Recommended Treatment To Tackle Tuberculosis Not Yet Implemented

Tuberculosis is once again on an unprecedented rise in India

India may be sitting on the edge of yet another tuberculosis epidemic. India accounts for 2.8 million of the 10.4 million new tuberculosis cases globally, according to the World Health Organisation Global TB Report 2016. WHO revised its estimates in 2016 after improved surveillance data from India and found a 34% spike in new cases. Amongst this the cases for Multi Drug Resistant(MDR) TB have also risen.

However, multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis are recent global health issues, which makes tuberculosis - after the success of short course treatment during the second half of the last century - a major health challenge. Recently WHO released a short-term procedure to reduce the time period of treatment of the disease, reducing it to a mere nine months. But reports suggest that despite the worrisome condition of TB in the country, the government has not included this medication in the National Policy of India.

Even the diagnostic guidelines and procedure for the disease is outdated and seems to turning redundant by each passing day. India's public sector health units still use 'Smear Microscopy' in the initial days of diagnosis which leads to further delay and complications.

The improved CB-NAAT, an automated diagnostic test which has an increased five-fold chance in detection of the disease, is limited to tertiary or reference hospitals of India. "TB is an ancient killer, but we have the knowledge and the tools to tackle this disease; many countries are just not making use of these advances, and people are dying as a result," said Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of The Stop TB Partnership.

Reports show that the disease kills between 480,000 to 500,000 Indians every year, making it a big challenge for India to achieve its goal of being TB free by 2025. According to the World Health Organisation, TB is the world's top infectious disease that causes death and 5000 people die because of it every day. "We are calling on the G20 leaders to wake up and do something to stop the unnecessary deaths and the spread of TB, including drug-resistant TB," Ditiu added. It looks like it is high time the government accepts the risks and takes precautionary methods to eradicate this disease.

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