K’taka coughs its way up on the TB list


Karnataka records the highest number of deaths due to tuberculosis, as per the India Tuberculosis Report 2019.

By Labani Mahanandy

Karnataka tops the list of tuberculosis death rate in India by recording 6.2 percent which is higher than the national death rate of 4 percent. The total number of deaths in India due to TB was 4,40,000 in 2018, while in Karnataka alone, there were more than 27,000 deaths.

Karnataka is closely followed by Gujarat (6 percent), Puducherry (5.5 percent) and Tripura (5.2 percent).

Dr. Avanish Kulkarni, Bijapur District Hospital said, “This infectious disease spreads very easily, so it’s very difficult to control it in a population as huge as ours. It is not possible to eradicate it even in a decade.”

India recorded one of the highest numbers of TB cases in the world with almost 2.69 million cases prevailing currently. It is estimated that about 40% of the Indian population is infected with TB bacteria.

 TB has been a notifiable disease since May 2012 and the government had set up a web network called NIKSHAY to keep track of all the TB patients in the country. To battle with the increasing cases of TB, the government had initiated the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) in 1997.

Dr. Edmond Fernandez, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Health and Development said, “We are able to notify more TB cases with the help of the programs run by the government across the country. Also implementing more schemes subsequently in the coming years will help in decreasing the number of cases.”

At the beginning of 2020, the central government renamed the RNTCP as the National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP). RNTCP is responsible for implementing the five-year TB National Strategic Plans (NSP). The government has allocated Rs 12,327 crores for the NSP period 2017-2025 to carry out various national TB programs and the main aim of it is to record new cases of TB and organize a plan to trim the number down. Under this scheme, the diagnosis and treatment of TB are free.

The main reason stated in the “National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis: 2017-25 Elimination By 2025” is that India’s huge population is still malnourished which is a major contributor to the increase in TB cases.

 “Malnutrition and alcoholism are the major reasons for the disease and it is a very infectious disease,” Dr. Kulkarni told The Softcopy.

It is suggested to get a check-up if the cough lasts longer than three weeks but most of the people tend to ignore it. So, the disease gets detected in worse condition. Kumarswamy, a resident of Sandur taluk in Karnataka has been suffering from tuberculosis for one year now. He said, “It all started with a normal cough and I ignored the symptoms for over 6 months. But later, I was diagnosed with TB. I have been under medication for 2 years now. The Asha workers come and give me my regular medical dose every day.”

“The government’s initiative could help eradicate the disease only if it is implemented properly,” he added.