Indian economy is deeply affected by tuberculosis, which claims more than 500,000 lives every year thereby taking away the productive years of infected people, according to an official statistics.
According to documents available with the health ministry, TB is killing more adults than any other infectious disease and affects the lives of people in the age group of 15 to 54.
"An adult suffering from TB loses three to four months of working time on average, and it affects 20 to 30 percent of the household's annual income.
"The annual cost to the country has been pegged at $300 million in direct costs and over $3 billion in indirect costs," official documents revealed.
L.S. Chauhan, country programme manager, TB, told IANS: "Since it is affecting the productive years of people, economic loss is a must. The disease is a hindrance to the socio-economic development of the country."
"We are trying to reach out to the masses and treat as many people as we can through 11,000 intervention centres in the country at the micro level."
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 80 percent of all active TB cases in Southeast Asia are among the productive population, which has an adverse impact on the social and economic progress of the region.
The rapidly growing HIV epidemic is the region is also a cause for concern, it said.
"TB is the single most life threatening infection and the leading cause of mortality among those with HIV infection. Nearly three million are believed to be co-infected with HIV and TB. Between 50 to 82 percent of those diagnosed with AIDS have tuberculosis."
The estimated HIV prevalence among TB patients is 5.2 percent in India, compared to 6.8 percent in Myanmar and 8.7 percent in Thailand.
According to health ministry documents, due to the stigma attached to the disease, around 100,000 women are turned out of their homes every year in India. Many women, in fear of being termed social outcasts, are not coming forward to discuss their illness.
Currently around 14 million people are suffering from the disease, of which 60,000 are estimated to be in the national capital alone. While India loses around 500,000 lives every year, three million people succumb to it around the world.
Every year, 1.8 million new cases occur in the country of which 0.8 million are infectious. Unless treated properly, each infectious pulmonary TB patient can infect 10 to 15 persons a year.
TB patients not properly treated can develop drug resistance and potentially incurable forms of the disease, authorities said.
"Since no new drugs have been discovered since 1968, the germs can develop drug resistance and can transmit the resistant germs to the community," Chauhan confessed.