As the world observed the 54th Anti-Tuberculosis Day vowing to eradicate the disease, Nepal was found to be one of the most acutely affected countries, where TB kills two people every three hours.
According to Nepal Anti-TB Association (NATA), an NGO working to create awareness about the killer disease, between 5,000-7,000 people die of TB every year.
AdvertisementThe toll worldwide is 1.6 million, with women and children being the worst affected.
According to the World Health Organisation, every year nearly 2.8 million women are diagnosed with TB with 70,000 succumbing to it.
Almost 250,000 children worldwide die annually due to the killer disease.
It is estimated that at present there are about 90,000 patients in Nepal. However, their number is expected to grow by 40,000 every year.
"One infected person can spread the disease to 10-15 persons more," warned Pushpa Malla, director at the National Tuberculosis Centre in Nepal.
Though the DOTS (directly observed treatment service) Plus system has helped Nepal combat the disease to some extent, the alarming development is the detection of a drug-resistant strain for the first time in the Himalayan nation.
Nepal's state media Thursday said recently five patients were detected with extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR), one of whom had died of the strain.
According to Malla, Nepal has no drug to combat XDR TB. The government, she said, was in the process of bringing in medicines through World Health Organisation's (WHO) Global Drugs facilities.
TB, caused by the TB bacilli, is nurtured in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world, due to poor diets, lack of awareness, domestic pollution from cooking on stoves fuelled by firewood or cow dung and lack of medical access as well as lack of hygiene.
NATA currently runs 21 DOTS Plus clinics in Nepal's five development regions.