Hyderabad: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday called for developing a new and long-lasting vaccine to combat tuberculosis, one of the top 10 causes of deaths worldwide in 2018.
He said he had been told that the effect of the BCG vaccine now being administered does not last for many years, and so there was an absolute need for a booster vaccine or a new vaccine that is effective and long-lasting. Naidu said he was happy to note that the union government has begun trials to test new candidate vaccines.
Addressing the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health here, he quoted a World Health Organisation report, which said TB was one of the top 10 causes of deaths worldwide in 2018. In 2018, there were an estimated 10 (9.0 to 11.1) million new TB cases worldwide, of which 1.1 million were children, he said.
"India is among eight countries that accounted for 66 per cent of new cases — China, Indonesia,the Philippines,Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and South Africa are the others,"he said.
However, TB treatment saved around 58 million lives globally between 2000 and 2018 and the TB mortality rate fell by 42 per cent during the period. He noted that the union government was in the forefront of global action to end the disease and was adopting a multi sectoral and community-led approach to eliminate TB in the country by 2025.
Naidu said initiatives like the Revised National TB Control Program had brought down TB incidence in India at an annual rate of 1.7 per cent, but added that it was a matter of concern that around 5.5 lakh cases went unreported last year.
He said the private sector must not only step up its efforts to achieve the goal of eliminating TB, but actively collaborate with the government in this regard.
On its part, the centre was making all efforts, ably supported by various states, to ensure affordable health care for all and bring down costs of TB diagnosis and treatment.
He noted that the Health and Family Welfare ministry has launched a National Prevalence Survey to estimate prevalence of tuberculosis at national and sub-national levels. The Government has had some success during the last one year in case finding, drug resistance surveys and in providing nutritional support to TB patients, he said.
Calling for addressing various causes that spread TB, including poverty and overcrowding, Naidu said prevention was the most effective to control its spread and that more efforts were needed in that direction.
The Conference gave a call to end Tuberculosis, which, it said, was responsible for killing some 1.5 million people each year. "Ending the TB emergency starts right here in India," said Jose Luis Castro, Executive Director of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), convenor of the Union World Conference, which is being held for the first time in India in half a century.
Ren Minghui, Assistant Director-General of WHO, said WHO's Global TB Report launched recently shows that countries are making significant progress.
About seven million people were reported to have been reached with quality TB care in 2018, up from the number of people in 2017, he told reporters. India was leading the way and is one of the biggest contributors to the success, along with others, he said.
A message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reiterating the government's commitment to eradicate TB by 2025, five years ahead of global target of 2030, was read out on the occasion by the organizers.
"In India, TB affects peoples lives more than any communicable disease. We are committed to get rid of TB by 2025, five years ahead of the global target of 2030. The
National Strategic Plan to Eradicate TB has been made fully operational," he said.
Stressing the crucial role of doctors and workers for eradication TB, he said the doctors, nurses, health workers and other stakeholders must make more people aware of the need to diagnose and treat TB.
Patients who get cured and overcome TB must also be actively involved in inspiring others to fight the disease successfully, Modi said.