Home >Science >Health >Covid-19 has majorly impacted the tuberculosis control efforts: Harsh Vardhan
New Delhi: Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Harsh Vardhan, addresses the Ministerial meeting of the Global Prevention Coalition (GPC) for HIV Prevention through video conferencing, from Nirman Bhawan, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI18-11-2020_000130B) (PTI)
New Delhi: Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Harsh Vardhan, addresses the Ministerial meeting of the Global Prevention Coalition (GPC) for HIV Prevention through video conferencing, from Nirman Bhawan, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI18-11-2020_000130B) (PTI)

Covid-19 has majorly impacted the tuberculosis control efforts: Harsh Vardhan

  • Kerala recorded 5,792 new cases while West Bengal reported 3,654 new cases yesterday, according to the union health ministry
  • During the period of January to October 2020, only 14.5 lakh TB cases have been notified which is 29% lower than the same period in 2019

Dealing a massive blow to the tuberculosis (TB) control efforts of the government, covid-19 pandemic has majorly impacted the new disease notifications in 2020, union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday.

During the period of January to October 2020, only 14.5 lakh TB cases have been notified which is 29% lower than the same period in 2019, with the decline being over 35 - 40% in some States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Goa," Harsh Vardhan said. He was digitally addressing the 33rd Stop TB Partnership Board meet.

However, some states like Sikkim, Telangana, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha had witnessed less than 20% impact even during the lockdown period, the health minister said adding that these states strategized to integrate their TB case finding activities with covid-19 preventive measures.

“The deadly virus has derailed our painstaking efforts of many decades and diverted scientific attention from many infectious killer diseases like TB. The lockdowns have raised insurmountable barriers for patients and people are still living in fear of the Coronavirus," the health minister said.

“We all know that the last ten months have seen treatment interruptions, hindered availability of drugs, shrinking supply of diagnostic tests, delays in diagnosis, interrupted supply chains, diversion of manufacturing capacity and imposition of physical barriers for patients who must travel to distant clinics to pick up the medications," he said.

Covid-19 cases in India neared 9 million mark on Wednesday with 38,617 new cases in last 24 hours. As the total number of covid-19 cases swelled to 89,20,171, 10 States/UTs contributed to 76.15% of the new cases. Delhi reported 6,396 cases in the last 24 hours.

Kerala recorded 5,792 new cases while West Bengal reported 3,654 new cases yesterday, according to the union health ministry. At least 78.9% of the 474 case fatalities that were reported in the past 24 hours are from Ten States/UTs. Over 20.89% of new fatalities reported are from Delhi which reported 99 deaths. Maharashtra and West Bengal follow with 68 and 52 new deaths, respectively. The total toll touched 1,32,033 on Wednesday.

In a bid to mitigate the impact of covid-19 pandemic, the government has recommended bi-directional TB-COVID screening, screening among Influenza-like illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) cases, intensifying of private sector engagement, re-deployment of the repurposed HR and CBNAAT and TrueNaT machines back to the TB program.

“Health facilities are opening up and more and more people are presenting themselves before the government and private health clinics to get tested. Case finding through outreach activities in the community have also picked up. With the gradual return of staff who had been diverted for covid-19 activities, public health action such as counselling, contact tracing and disbursement of nutritional support are also picking up," Harsh Vardhan said.

Talking about India’s strategy of turning the crisis into opportunity, the health minister said, several dedicated infectious disease hospitals have come up as a part of the pandemic response measures which would contribute in a major way towards TB care and management. He said that the molecular diagnostic capacity of the country has increased multi-fold. These multi-platform devices based on cartridge and chip-based technology can decentralize TB diagnosis.

“Behavioural changes acquired during the pandemic such as cough hygiene, use of masks, physical distancing will further help reduce the transmission of Tuberculosis which is a respiratory illness. The increased uptake of telemedicine and teleconsultation during the pandemic will provide channels of consultation for tuberculosis," said Harsh Vardhan.

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