by Namitha Kumar on  March 24, 2015 at 12:29 PM Health In Focus
World Tuberculosis Day 2015
World Tuberculosis Day (WTBD) is observed on 24 March each year. WTBD is intended to raise public awareness of the deadly disease that causes 1.5 million deaths each year. TB is an infectious epidemic in the developing countries, and the second largest killer after HIV-AIDS.

India has the highest burden of TB in the world with an estimated two million new cases every year and this accounts for every fifth TB patient being an Indian. It is estimated that about 40% of the Indian population is infected with TB bacteria. However, the disease is latent in most and manifests as active TB among 2.2 million people when there is a trigger like low immunity; this leads to almost 300,000 deaths each year in India. The morbidity from TB and its treatment makes TB India's biggest health crisis as there is an economic losses of almost $23 billion.

TB care and treatment in India is provided by the Revised National TB Control Programme and through private sector hospitals. The WHO-recommended 'Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course' (DOTS) strategy has been successful in India from 1997. DOTS has been widely advocated and successfully applied and all patients are eligible for treatment under this programme. This helps patients from below poverty line to initiate, continue treatment and be monitored without expending any money. As the treatment needs to continue for 6 to 9 months, the compliance is better resulting in good treatment outcomes.

This day was chosen to commemorate the discovery of the cause of TB in 1882 by Dr.Robert Koch. TB is caused by bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB was an epidemic throughout Europe and America and Dr.Koch's announcement in Berlin led to new ways of diagnosing and curing the disease.

Objectives of World Tuberculosis Day

WTBD is an opportunity to sensitize, inform and educate the public about TB and its related problems, diagnosis and treatment. It is a call-to-action on a global scale to join the fight against TB. It's still a life-threatening disease in developing countries like India and it is necessary to create large-scale awareness about prevention and treatment.

WHO Call-to-Action

WTBD is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has called for 'global solidarity and action,' towards a new 20-year strategy in eliminating this global epidemic.

According to WHO, though a lot of progress has been made in the fight against TB, much more needs to be done in this direction. Nine million people contracted TB in 2013 with nearly 0.5 million who have multi-drug resistant (MDR) diseases. MDR-TB is difficult to treat with the bacillus becoming immune to the combative drugs. WHO estimates the number of people with MDR-TB to be 480,000 globally.

TB has disastrous consequences for individuals and families in developing countries, which do not have strong public health services. It affects families and reduces incomes thereby leading on to further economic hardships.

WHO's End TB Strategy was adopted by the governments at the World Health Assembly, Geneva, in May 2014. The three key action points were:
  • Integrated patient-centric care and prevention for all
  • Robust policies and support systems
  • Intensive research and innovation

The End TB Strategy objective was to reduce TB deaths by 95% and TB cases by 90% by the 2035. The End TB Strategy bought together governments, medical and health communities and patient communities to combat this epidemic and reduce its disastrous consequences on public health.

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