In what seems to be an alarming situation for the national health, India ranks highest in the list of Tuberculosis (TB) inflicted countries worldwide, as unveiled by the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
With an estimated 3.8 million cases recorded in 2008, India continues to be the highest tuberculosis burden country in the world, the ministry said.
Further stating the facts, the ministry marked that more than 5,000 Indians develop tuberculosis every day and nearly 1,000 people die, which results in two deaths every three minutes.
The facts were presented at a three-day seminar on ‘Emerging Trends in the Diagnosis & Experimental Chemotherapy of Tuberculosis’, jointly organized by National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Mohali; department of pharmaceuticals, Government of India; and Harvard School of Public Health, United States.
High social cost, lack of drugs: major issues
The grim situation doesn’t end here. In India, prevalence of the disease is accompanied with a devastating social cost, which accounts for nearly $3 billion per year.
Lack of proper potential drugs for TB treatment is another big hurdle. No new drug has been introduced over the last 30 years, and the drugs which are available have their own drawbacks.
“The presently used drugs are all fraught with several drawbacks, and have to be administered over six months or more. This usually leads to non-compliance and results in the emergence of drug-resistant strains,” said Ashok Kumar, Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, at NIPER, Mohali, on Wednesday.
Kumar noted that given the grim situation, only excessive government aid and public initiative could control the situation.
Tuberculosis, the deadly infectious disease
Tuberculosis (TB) is a common and often deadly infectious disease caused by intracellular bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis in humans. It usually attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body, states Wikipedia.
It spreads through air when the infected persons cough , sneeze or spit. Most infections in humans are asymptomatic, latent infections. About one in ten latent infections eventually progresses to active disease, which, if left untreated, kills more than half of its victims.
Symptoms of the disease include a chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss