Home/ Science / Health/  World TB day: History, significance and India's fight against TB

On March 24 each year, World TB Day is observed to raise awareness of TB and efforts to end the global epidemic. Additionally, this day in 1882 marks the discovery of the TB-causing bacterium.

The 2023 World TB Day with the slogan "Yes! We Can End Tuberculosis (We Can End TB) aims to give people hope and encourage high-level leadership, more investment, faster implementation of new WHO recommendations, new ideas, faster action, and multisectoral collaboration to fight the TB epidemic.

History & Significance of World Tuberculosis Day

Dr. Robert Koch made the discovery of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, on March 24, 1882. The most important step toward controlling and eliminating tuberculosis was the discovery. On the 100th anniversary of Dr. Koch's announcement, in 1982, the first official World Tuberculosis Day was observed.

Many people are unaware that tuberculosis is a curable disease that can go undetected for years and is the subject of numerous misconceptions and myths. The day aims to address this issue because patients face a significant risk as a result of this lack of awareness.

One of the most common causes of illness and death worldwide is tuberculosis, a communicable disease. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB). TB patients spread the disease by expel bacteria into the air.

In many parts of the world, TB is still associated with social stigma and continues to be a major health issue. Diagnostic and treatment efforts have been successful, but it is still difficult to keep track of the disease's progress and the burden it has caused continues to challenge us.


Challenges faced by India to eradicate TB

India has committed to eradicating tuberculosis by 2025, five years earlier than the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) goal of 2030. Given the numerous obstacles that need to be overcome, this appears to be an overly ambitious and unattainable objective.

According to the WHO Global TB Report 2022, India had an estimated 3 million new cases of tuberculosis and over half a million deaths from the disease. The number of new cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis has been estimated to be around 150,000 per year. These cases include people who were previously treated for tuberculosis as well as those who were infected with drug-resistant bacteria.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) remains a threat to public health, according to the report. The most pressing issue is resistance to rifampicin, the most efficient first-line medication. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, is defined as resistance to both rifampicin and isoniazid. Second-line medications are required for treatment of both MDR-TB and RR-TB. Each year, 1 people worldwide were estimated to develop MDR-TB or RR-TB (MDR/RR-TB). 

In India, the prevalence of microbiologically confirmed pulmonary TB (PTB) was 316 per million people aged 15 and older, with the highest PTB prevalence of 534 per million in Delhi and the lowest PTB prevalence of 115 per million in Kerala, according to the National TB Prevalence Survey 2019-2021.

Males, older people, malnourished people, smokers, alcoholics, and known diabetics had a higher prevalence of PTB. In India, 21.7 percent of those surveyed had PTB infections. 63% of people who had chest symptoms didn't go to the doctor. The majority of them had ignored the symptoms and didn't think they were sick.

The social and economic effects of tuberculosis should be made more known to the public, and global efforts should be intensified to end the epidemic. There must be an aggregate liability to stand up to the disparities and end the sickness.

India is better equipped to combat TB, but there are still a number of obstacles that must be overcome if the disease is to be eradicated. First, a large portion of the country's population is malnourished, which can weaken immunity and reactivate tuberculosis. Due to a lack of resources and financial constraints, a significant portion of those afflicted with the disease discontinue treatment midway through its course.

The TB epidemic's persistence can be attributed in large part to factors such as inadequate treatment, delayed diagnosis, high rates of recurrent TB, drug resistance, diabetes, HIV, malnutrition, and urbanization.

Engaging the private sector is challenging. Because they have the potential to play a crucial role in treatment, the private sector's involvement needs to be expanded.

Vaccine for TB

The BCG vaccine is still the only approved TB vaccine; It moderately protects infants and young children from severe forms of tuberculosis (TB meningitis).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all newborns in countries with a high TB prevalence receive a single dose of the BCG vaccine as soon as possible after birth.

However, in order to address the issues, a new vaccine is becoming increasingly important. The issue of drug resistance ought to be addressed by the new vaccine.


Shweta Birendra Shukla
I create real art through my articles.
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Updated: 24 Mar 2023, 12:22 PM IST
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