Scale up TB control initiatives to reach missing cases: WHO

Tuberculosis affects nearly three million people in WHO's South-East Asia region every year and of them nearly one million go undetected or untreated.

PTI| Last Updated: Mar 20, 2015, 19:42 PM IST

New Delhi: Tuberculosis affects nearly three million people in WHO's South-East Asia region every year and of them nearly one million go undetected or untreated.

On World TB Day, World Health Organisation (WHO) called upon countries to aggressively scale up efforts to find, treat and cure these missing cases to eliminate TB.

"The Region is making progress in the fight against TB, but to win the battle we need to improve access to treatment and also address the social, economic and behavioral factors to reach each of those million missing TB affected persons," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.

WHO South-East Asia Region has made gains against TB and is on track to achieve the global target of 50 per cent reduction in TB death rates by 2015 as compared with 1990. The access to TB care has expanded substantially since the year 2000 with 88 per cent treatment success rates.

However, the scale of TB in the region is alarming. The region still accounts for 38 per cent of the global TB cases. India alone accounts for 26 per cent. An estimated 450000 people died of TB in the Region in 2013, with most deaths reported from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand, said Khetrapal.

"Concerted action is needed to reach the missing cases. These cases are being missed mainly due to underreporting from the public and private sectors, social stigma and lack of access to services. TB services ? screening, testing and care ? need to be expanded with a primary health care approach to ensure equitable access," she said.

The Region has seen good implementation of DOTS ? the directly observed treatment, short course, which has resulted in relatively low multidrug resistance among newly detected TB cases. However, due to the large number of the total TB cases, the Region accounts for a third of the world?s multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases.

"The battle against TB cannot be won until we address the underlying social determinants of poverty, sanitation and nutrition. We need to aggressively scale up efforts to meet TB elimination targets.

"Between 2015 and 2035, global targets are to reduce TB deaths by 95 per cent, cut new cases by 90 per cent and to ensure that no family is burdened with catastrophic expenses due to TB," Khetrapal said.