Govt says India on right track in TB control programme

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New Delhi, Mar 24 (UNI) Despite the spread of DOTS programme throughout the country, India loses about Rs 13500 crore annually due to tuberculosis.

On the occasion of World TB Day today, Health Minister Ambumoni Ramdoss said India was on the right track and the incidence of disease has come down in the country by nine per cent and hoped that it could be reduced to half by 2015 as aimed under the Millennium Development goal.

He said that under the Revised National TB Control Programme Rs 1150 crore would be spent on the disease during the next five years.

The DOTS have been dramatically extended throughout the country since March this year and about 5.4 million patients are receiving it.

He said one million lives have been saved during the the past five-six years and death rate due to TB has come down from 29 per cent to below four per cent.

The Health Minister said even the World Health Organisation has appreciated India in its Global Report 2005 saying that ''India, the country with the greatest burden of TB, is also the country where the most dramatic advances are being made in DOTS expansion.'' ''Though these are great achievements, as per crude estimates India still looses about three billion dollars or Rs 13500 crore annually on account of loss of productivity and mandays due to TB.

About 1.7 million people still contract the disease every year,'' pointed out Dr Bobby John, President, Massive Effort Campaign, Winterthur, Switzerland&international TB advocate.

He said if effective steps are taken to check this loss, it would be a major saving to the country comparable to what it gets through Foreign Direct Investment.

He said though DOTS has been extended to the entire country and 11500 Microscopy Centres have been opened for quicker detection, what was required was more participation of the community, NGOs and corporate sector so that maximum number of people come to these centres for proper detection and treatment.

The detection rate which is 67 per cent at present needs to be increased and that was possible only when more and more people come forward to get themselves tested. The number of NGOs working in the field should be increased and the government should encourage improved participation, Dr John said.

Meanwhile, spread of HIV/AIDS pandemic is a major source of worry for TB control programme. Dr Ramdoss admitted that the about 50 per cent to 60 per cent HIV infected people show TB infection and the government is taking steps to tackle the situation by linking RNTCP with Phase II of the National AIDS Control Programme.

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