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.
"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.
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.