India Witnesses Reduction in Drug-Resistant TB Cases

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India has witnessed a 21% reduction in the estimated number of drug-resistant TB cases from 1.4 lakhs in 2015 to 1.1 lakhs in 2022. This has been recorded in the Global TB Report 2023 released by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has issued a press release on this report dated December 19, 2023.

The report highlights the country’s proactive measures and substantial progress in combating drug-resistant TB. India has scaled up the availability of molecular diagnostic facilities. This effort has resulted in an increased proportion of TB patients being screened for the presence of drug resistance.

Under the National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP), there has been a consistent and regular supply of Anti-TB drugs to all states and union territories (UTs) throughout the year. The government conducts regular assessments to evaluate stock positions at various levels, ensuring a seamless flow of resources from central warehouses to peripheral health institutes. State/UTs are also equipped with resources for local procurement to meet emergent requirements.

The government has implemented several strategic steps to ensure early diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant TB:

  1. Scaling up Molecular Diagnostics: The availability of molecular diagnostics has been significantly expanded, with 6196 Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) machines now covering all districts of the country. Additionally, 91 Line Probe Assay and 69 liquid culture testing laboratories have been established for diagnosing multi-drug resistance.
  2. Universal Drug Susceptibility Testing (UDST): Implemented to ensure that every diagnosed TB patient is tested to rule out drug resistance at the time of diagnosis.
  3. Introduction of Newer Drugs: Newer drugs like Bedaquiline and Delamanid have been introduced to enhance the management of drug-resistant TB.
  4. Decentralized Treatment Services: Decentralized drug-resistant TB treatment services are offered through 792 DR-TB Centres across the country, ensuring accessibility and timely intervention.

The concerted efforts and strategic initiatives by the government have not only reduced the prevalence of drug-resistant TB but have also strengthened the country’s commitment to eliminating TB. The progress made is a testament to the collaborative approach in tackling one of the world’s major public health challenges.

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