India will roll out by next month a revised national strategic plan with an aim to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the global goal to stamp out the bacterial disease.
The target seems ambitious considering 2.8 million new TB cases are still getting diagnosed annually and the bacterial infection killing more than 4.8 lakh people each year in the country.
The latest data is part of the annual TB report that union health minister JP Nadda released on the occasion of the World TB Day on Friday.
“We know we are racing against time. The challenge is immense, but we are up for it. The plan is ready to reach the target by 2025,” he said.
The biggest challenge for the country is multi drug-resistant TB that is reported in 75,000 of the cases during treatment. Of these cases, 1.5% is related to more dangerous extensively drug-resistant TB (X-DR TB).
“To end TB, we will have to think out-of-the-box. We have to make effective use of the private sector and co-ordinate better with state governments,” said CK Mishra, health secretary.
The role of the private sector is important to track all the cases of TB.
The increase in new infections to 2.8 million from the previous 2.2 million is largely attributed to cases that were notified by the private sector after it was made mandatory for all to notify TB cases in 2012.
Better diagnostic facilities in each district also spiked the detection figure.
“We started a door-to-door TB screening programme in 50 high risk districts and will expand to 130 districts this year,” said Dr Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services.
“Each district has at least one of the more accurate gene testing machines CBNAAT, and 100 high priority districts have been identified for intensified TB control initiatives.”
Government’s main concern and focus will now be to get all cases from the private sector hospitals.
“We have to reach out to the estimated 15 lakh patients who are seeking treatment outside the public sector,” said Mishra.