In India, 2.8 million are affected with TB but a million go 'missing' or never show up in the Revised National TB Control Programme.
Almost 28% of the patients don't have access to a government TB centre and around half a million patients either never complete their long diagnostic process or medical treatment, found a joint study by Indian and US scientists published in PLOS Medicine. The 'missing' patients are important because each patient with active TB can infect 10-15 other people within a year. 'missing' or never show up in the Revised National TB Control Programme.
Experts from the Indian Council of Medical Research and Harvard University, among others, found that only 39% of all TB patients in India managed a one-year recurrence-free survival.
‘Only 53% of the 2.7 million started TB treatment at Government aided centres and 45% of WHO's estimated number of patients completed treatment.’
"We estimated that of about 2.7 million prevalent TB patients in India in 2013, only 72% managed to reach government TB health facilities," said the study's main author Dr Ramnath Subbaraman from Harvard Medical School.
The number of patients kept shrinking at every progressive step. At the stage of seeking successful diagnosis, the 72% had reduced to 60%. Finally, only 53% of the 2.7 million started TB treatment at these centres. Worse, only 45% of WHO's estimated number of patients completed treatment.
A part of the problem is due to inadequate diagnostic facilities. "Each patient has to be diagnosed with two sputum smears and is put on a course of antibiotics. Thereafter the patient undergoes a chest X-ray as well as further treatment before being identified as a TB patient. Many patients living in rural areas don't complete this rigorous process," said Dr Subbaraman.