There Are Way More TB Cases In India Than Estimated: Study

Research suggests that the number of TB cases in India may be twice or thrice current estimates.

AsianScientist (Aug. 30, 2016) – There may be two to three times more tuberculosis (TB) cases in India than current estimates, according to a new study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

TB is a bacterial infection that is spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. India has the highest number of TB cases in the world, and accounts for at least a quarter of all cases worldwide.

“TB is the top infectious disease killer worldwide, yet we have had little idea of the true scale of the problem in India, the worst affected country. This is because many patients in India use the private medical system as opposed to the state system,” said lead author Dr. Nimalan Arinaminpathy from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, UK.

Arinaminpathy noted that this vast private system consists of a huge number of providers and is largely unregulated, meaning that most cases of TB seen in the private healthcare system are not reported to public health officials.

The research team, which included researchers from the Indian government’s Revised National TB Control Program and the World Health Organization (WHO), calculated nationwide sales of TB drugs across the private sector and then used this figure to calculate the number of cases. This suggested there were plausibly 2.2 million TB cases, possibly more, treated in the private sector in 2014—two to three times higher than current estimates.

The researchers say that their findings suggest an urgent need to address the TB burden in India and increase surveillance in the private sector, as well as ensure greater collaboration between the private and public sector in India.

The article can be found at: Arinaminpathy et al. (2016) The Number of Privately Treated Tuberculosis Cases in India: An Estimation from Drug Sales Data.


Source: Imperial College London; Photo: Pixabay.
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