In 2018, Maharashtra notified at least 2.09 lakh tuberculosis (TB) patients, of which 6 per cent are children, according to the latest India Tuberculosis Report 2019, released by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday.
The state has seen a steep jump in the number of notified TB patients, from 1.13 lakh to 2.09 lakh between 2017 and 2018. Officials claim aggressive screening drives and increase in testing equipment to diagnose TB have led to better notification rate. On Wednesday, the Union minister said the government has increased budget four-fold for TB to eliminate the infectious disease by 2025. The target set by India is five years ahead of the global
A boost in detection rate is also due to increase in Cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test (CBNAAT), which detects not only TB, but also drug resistance. Maharashtra tested 2.6 lakh patients in 2018, of them 73,681 tested positive. Of the positive cases, 11,306 were drug resistant.
“CBNAAT has helped start correct treatment at an early stage. We also began private sector engagement last year and reached out to 20,000 patients in Mumbai,” said Dr Daksha Shah, TB control officer of Mumbai. Through private sector engagement, the government is providing free tests, medicines, and other services to patients undergoing private treatment. “This has reduced out of pocket expenditure,” Shah said.
In Mumbai, the death rate of TB patients dropped by 26 per cent from 2013 to 2017. Free nutrition was also started last year for over 6,000 patients.
What remains a cause of worry are new TB-HIV co-infected patients. Across India, 21.5 lakh TB patients were notified in 2018, a 16 per cent rise from 2017. In 2018, 3.4 per cent patients had TB-HIV co-infection, a rise from 3 per cent in 2017. Patients with HIV are 21 times more likely to get TB infection, leading to increased risk of death.
With tuberculosis infection directly related with immunity, the report shows at least 8,863 have HIV and 3,234 have diabetes in Maharashtra. There are 203 transgender people with TB who also face high risk of HIV co-infection in the state.