Riding high on the success of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) that exceeded international cure rates for three consecutive years, India’s set an ambitious target to detect and treat 90% of all tuberculosis cases in the country by 2015.
Tuberculosis (TB) cases have dropped to 185 cases per one lakh population as compared to 283 per lakh in 2007, said World Health Organisation's Global TB Report, 2009. Since RNTCP’s inception in 1997, 12.8 million people have been treated and 2.3 million lives saved.
“Having crossed WHO’s targets of new case-detection of 70% and treatment success rate of 85%, the RNTCP is being expanded to ensure all tuberculosis patients in the community, including vulnerable and marginalised people, have early access to quality diagnosis and treatment,” said health ministry official.
Under the RNTCP, all TB patients get free diagnosis and drugs for six to eight months under the WHO-recommended Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS). Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) is being treated in 12 states since 2007, and is being expanded to cover the entire country by the end of 2011.Availability of MDR-TB drugs is riddled with persistent supply and price problems that must be urgently addressed, more so now that the detection rates are expected to increase, warns a new report by the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which will be released on Thursday.
“Patients have been stuck in a vicious circle – not enough people are diagnosed, and drug supply problems along with high prices stand in the way of treatment,” said Blessina Kumar of Stop TB Partnership.