Kolkata: India is unlikely to reach the WHO target of elimination of tuberculosis (TB) by 2050 going by the rate at which incidence of the disease is declining in the country.
"Incidence of TB in India is declining at the rate of about 2 per cent per year. However, in order to reach the TB elimination target by 2050, the rate should be 19 to 20 per cent per year," WHO Representative to India Nata Menabde told PTI.
She, however, said that on using available strategies and technologies effectively, along with universal health coverage and social protection, the country could achieve a reduction of TB incidence rate of 10 per cent per year by 2025.
"To hasten the decline of TB incidence beyond that would require new tools such as new effective vaccines, new points of care, effective diagnostics and new effective shortened treatment regimens," she suggested.
Additionally, social determinants of TB such as under-nutrition, overcrowding and poor ventilation in slums and clinical risk factors such as diabetes mellitus, smoking etc should be addressed simultaneously, she added.
Citing the WHO Global TB Report 2014, Menabde said that India has already met the Million Development Goals (MDG) target of 50 per cent reduction in the prevalence of TB by 2015 compared to 1990. "India is also well on track for reducing TB death by 50 per cent by 2015," she stated.
Menabde, however, said there was a need to improve the quality of care provided to TB patients at private clinics and hospitals as most approached such facilities for treatment, especially in urban areas.
"At least one-half of the TB patients in India, especially in urban areas, approach private sector for TB care. But the quality of care in the private sector in most situations is not satisfactory.
"There is a need for wider dissemination of 'standards for TB care' to the private sector, targeted approaches to engagement with them and more stringent implementation of mandatory notification of TB cases.