Gates favours cheaper treatment for TB

New Delhi: Favouring a cheaper treatment for Tuberculosis, software czar and philanthropist Bill Gates today said the need of the hour was to develop a vaccine for the disease towards which Indian scientists should work.

"Innovation is the key word. India will be a key for a lot of innovations," Gates said at a press conference here.

Lamenting that the tests to check for TB were very slow, he said most of the people who are afflicted with the disease find out only much later and thus their treatment gets delayed.

He said that after using the microscope to detect the TB bacteria, a new tool called the GeneXpert is being used.

He wished that the Indian scientists would take the "basic idea" and make it more viable and cheap.

"The most magic thing would be to have a vaccine," he added.

India accounts for one-fifth of global TB cases and the government has announced that it is all set to revise its National Tuberculosis Control Programme with a new objective of universal access to quality TB care.

Under universal access, all TB patients in the community, including vulnerable and marginalised persons, will have access to early, good quality diagnosis and treatment services.

The intermediate target is to detect 90 per cent of all TB cases and successfully treat 90 per cent of them by 2015.

India's DOTS programme is the largest in the world in terms of patients initiated on treatment, placing on an average of more than 1, 25,000 patients on treatment every month.