Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease, which if not treated properly can be fatal. The World Health Organization (WHO) figures reveal that India accounts for an estimated 2.2 million of the 8.6 million new cases of TB that occur globally each year. It also states that India harbors more than twice as many cases as any other country, and some 300,000 people die in India every year from the disease.
An article in the British Medical Journal said, "India is failing to tackle a tuberculosis epidemic because of chronic shortages of funds and the government's inability to regulate an exploitative private health sector. India needs a massive investment in public health infrastructure to diagnose and treat the country's biggest health crisis."
The article by Dr.Zarir F. Udwadia, from the P.D. Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Center, said, "The government's TB program was failing to monitor the country's burgeoning private health sector. This is where most patients with TB seek initial care despite extensive evidence of inaccurate diagnostics and inappropriate treatment. Patients with TB in India typically flit between an unsympathetic public sector and an exploitative private sector until they are too sick or impoverished to do so, all the while continuing to transmit and spread tuberculosis in crowded home and work environments. India's anti-TB program has spent a derisory Rs.5 billion ($80 million) annually on tackling the disease, the least among the BRICS group of developing nations."
Dr. Udwadia's comments came as India Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda was due to release an annual report on his government's efforts to combat the disease. "Government efforts have improved in recent years, including better laboratory and hospital facilities, after the number of drug-resistant TB cases soared. Despite these positive developments, the general perception remains that India's TB program has failed to control disease and to reach out to poor and marginalized people who need its help most. A group of experts recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to treat TB as a national emergency, including by increasing public awareness of the disease and tackling drug resistance." said Dr. Udwadia.