New Delhi: Drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is spreading to more areas across the globe, with China and India accounting for almost half of those infected by strains that don’t respond to standard treatment, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
Some areas recorded the prevalence of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) at as much as one in four amid a global proportion of 3.6% of those affected by the disease. Still, WHO says it’s impossible to conclude whether the number of resistant cases is growing or shrinking, given the data that it has.
“While the TB case populations of China and India may have proportions of MDR-TB lower than Eastern European and Central Asian countries, the sheer sizes of the two countries’ TB case populations result in the highest estimated numbers of MDR-TB cases emerging annually in these two countries,” according to the WHO’s report, Multidrug and Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis: 2010 Global Report on Surveillance and Response. It puts the annual number of MDR-TB cases in India at around 100,000.
India accounts for one-fifth of people with tuberculosis, with 2 million contracting the disease every year, of which around 0.87 million are infectious, according to WHO and government data. With almost 3.3 lakh Indians dying of TB every year, or two people every three minutes, it’s one of the leading causes of mortality in the country.
Known as multidrug-resistant TB and in more severe cases as extensively drug-resistant TB, this form of the disease spread among 4.4 lakh people worldwide in 2008, killing a third of them, or 34%. The report also says the highest proportion of MDR-TB documented in a substantial area is in north-western Russia, where 28% of all people newly diagnosed with TB had MDR-TB in 2008.
Previously, the highest recorded level was 22% in Baku City, Azerbaijan, in 2007.
TB is also the most common opportunistic infection among people with HIV. India, with an estimated 2.3 million people living with HIV, diagnosed 24,320 co-infected people in 2008-09.
WHO estimates India may fall short of the funding required to curb the drug-resistant form of the disease in five years.
“The funding required for MDR-TB control in 2015 will be 16 times higher than the funding that is available in 2010. In many countries providing information, budgets for MDR-TB care and control in 2010 are vastly inadequate and do not correlate with the estimated MDR-TB burden,” states the report. It adds that in five of these countries—the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Uzbekistan—more than two-thirds of the planned budget represents a funding gap.
India implemented the directly observed treatment, short-course programme in 1997 under the revised national tuberculosis control programme to control the disease.