Wednesday August 15, 2018

India is Ground Zero for TB: Number of cases much higher than reported

The study published in Lancet found that in 2014, the private sector treated double the cases handled by government-run hospitals depicting the failing battle against TB

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TB Patient. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
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INDIA, September 5, 2016: : Ground zero of the global battle against one of humankind’s deadliest diseases, India could have between two and three times more Tuberculosis(TB) cases than currently assumed, said a recent paper released in ‘Lancet’, a medical journal.

The study found that in 2014, the private sector treated between 1.9 million and 5.34 million cases — or about double the cases handled by government-run hospitals.

Before this study, India was believed to have about 2.2 million TB cases, a quarter of the global TB burden, thus far estimated at about 6.3 million.

However, the private sector both helps and hinders TB treatment, the study implies.

Although standardised Tuberculosis treatment in India is delivered by the public sector, early diagnosis and treatment are hampered by the presence of a vast and unregulated private health-care sector, said the study, whose eight authors come from a variety of institutions, including London’s Imperial College, the Indian government, the World Health Organisation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded the study.

“Poor diagnostic practices in this sector prolong Tuberculosis transmission by delaying diagnosis, whereas a general lack of counselling and support of treatment adherence hampers successful, relapse-free cure,” said the study. “Moreover, most cases treated in the private sector are never notified to public health authorities.”

Tuberculosis Diagram. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Tuberculosis Diagram.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Analysing sales patterns of 189 drugs containing rifampicin — a key anti-TB formulation — over 2013 and 2014, the researchers estimated how many were sold to the private sector. In 2014, the WHO estimated that 800,000 TB patients escaped public-sector diagnosis, but these statistics were mostly compiled from expert opinion. So, the new study provides an empirical estimate that is independent of such opinion.

“This study illustrates the need to address the burden of Tuberculosis treated by the private sector and improve surveillance,” the researchers wrote, acknowledging the paper’s limitations, including the failure to capture TB patients who do not approach a doctor, use the informal sector or are being treated for multiple-drug resistance.

“This study also raises an urgent need to revise current estimates of Tuberculosis burden, informed by more systematic evidence relating to Tuberculosis management in the private sector,” the researchers wrote.

Although the incidence of TB in India has been declining, drug resistance and its interaction with other diseases, such as HIV, have slowed progress.

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Throughout history, TB has killed more humans than any conflict, disaster or disease known to mankind. In the 5th century, Greek philosopher Hippocrates advised doctors to stay away from TB patients, since there was no cure. In the 17th, it was called the great white plague of Europe, as it swept the continent, killing thousands over 200 years. In the 21st Century, it infects 10 million people every year, killing a fifth of those.

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TB bacteria have in-built armour, acids that protect them against the body’s cellular defenders. Most people infected with it have latent tuberculosis, where the bacteria are walled off in clumps by the cells of the immune system. Sometimes, the containment fails, particularly in people with weakened immune systems. If a drug doesn’t kill the bacteria completely, it becomes immune to that drug and can eventually overwhelm the immune system. (IANS)

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India will Send a Manned Flight into Space by 2020: Modi

He said India will become a growth engine for the world economy as the "sleeping elephant'' has started to run on the back of structural economic reforms.

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A high rise building is illuminated in the colors of the Indian tricolor flag on the eve of Independence Day in Kolkata, India
A high rise building is illuminated in the colors of the Indian tricolor flag on the eve of Independence Day in Kolkata, India. VOA

India will send a manned flight into space by 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Wednesday as part of India’s independence day celebrations.

He said India will become the fourth country after Russia, the United States and China to achieve the feat and its astronaut could be a man or a woman. The space capsule that will transport India’s astronauts was tested a few days earlier.

Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian to travel in space, aboard a Soviet rocket in 1984. As part of its own space program, India successfully put a satellite into orbit around Mars in 2014.

India won independence from British colonialists in 1947. Modi’s 80-minute speech, broadcast live from the historic Red Fort in New Delhi, comes months before national elections.

Modi listed his government’s achievements in the past four years in reforming the country’s economy, reducing poverty and corruption. He announced a health insurance scheme for 500 million poor people providing a cover of 500,000 rupees ($7,150) per family a year.

A woman sells Indian national flag memorabilia on the eve of Independence Day in Lucknow, India
A woman sells Indian national flag memorabilia on the eve of Independence Day in Lucknow, India. VOA

He said India will become a growth engine for the world economy as the “sleeping elephant” has started to run on the back of structural economic reforms.

He said its economy was seen as fragile before 2014 but was now attracting investment. India is the sixth largest economy in the world and Modi said international institutions see India as giving strength to the world economy for the next three decades.

Also Read: Amazon’s Alexa Can Now Learn Hindi and Other Indian Languages

He said the structural reforms like a national tax replacing various national and local taxes, bankruptcy and insolvency laws, and a crackdown on corruption have helped transform the economy. (VOA)