Health Minister Launches Largest TB Prevalence Survey, Vows to Vanquish Disease by 2025

Health Minister Launches Largest TB Prevalence Survey, Vows to Vanquish Disease by 2025

While launching the 'TB Harega, Desh Jeetega' campaign in Delhi, Harsh Vardhan noted there are still 5.5 lakh patients in the country.


Aniruddha Ghosal

New Delhi: In an effort to reach out to every tuberculosis (TB) patient in the country, the government on Wednesday launched the largest-ever conducted TB prevalence survey.

While launching the 'TB Harega, Desh Jeetega' campaign in Delhi, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan noted there were "still 5.5 lakh patients" who were lost in the country. Expressing optimism, Vardhan said India could become TB-free before its intended target of 2025.

As per the TB India report 2019, 21.5 lakh cases of tuberculosis were notified to the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) in 2018 — a 16% increase from 2017, the highest so far.

The 2019 report was launched by Vardhan on Wednesday. "I think we can defeat TB before 2025," he said. "This is that moment in history on which the future, TB-free India is going to look back. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that let the world look at 2030 as a target, but that isn't going to be our target. We will aim for 2025."

"There are still 5.5 lakh patients who are in our country, who we are not being able to find. This isn't a small number, but it is also not such a massive number to be impossible. The good news is we have the tools right now to be able to track them, we have the latest state-of-the-machine tools, equipment and diagnoistic facilities."

"Under the national strategic plan for ending TB, the RNTCP is strengthening private sector engagement to reach out to more TB patients to improve access to TB care and provision of incentives to doctors for notifying TB patients and treatment outcomes," the health ministry said in a statement.

Of the total notifications, 25% (5.4 lakh) were from the private sector — a 40% increase from 2018 and the ministry added that the model had been scaled up to 48 cities. "79% of patient notified for TB in 2017 have successfully completed their treatment," said the report.

It added that since April last year, more than 20.8 lakh beneficiaries have received benefits worth Rs 427 crore under the Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY), where TB patients are given Rs 500 per month for nutritional assistance during the treatment. It added that by September last year, 72% of all TB patients in the aspirational districts of India were covered for health-related interventions, compared to a target of 100%.

The report added that a national level committee had been formed that included membership from 17 ministries while the department of post and department of financial services have supported the expansion of TB services.

The report also stressed on the expansion of access to services. It said over 19 lakh patients are now under the Fixed Dosage Combinations that were provided to all patients, adding that there has been an increase in the proportion of patients on injection free-drug regimens, which has gone up to 98.5% in 2018 from 67% in 2017.

Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were dubbed the best performing states above the 50 lakh-population. The best performing states below the 50 lakh-population were Tripura and Sikkim. The best performing Union Territories were Puducherry and Daman and Diu.

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said, "There are 60 survivors of TB among us today and they have all decided to join us in the fight to vanquish TB."

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