India is counted among the countries with largest burden of tuberculosis (TB). Of all countries in the world, India has the highest number of TB cases accounting to 3.5 million. About half a million people die of TB every year in India. The numbers are still growing unchecked.
India has failed to curb TB epidemic over the years mainly because of the managerial weakness, inadequate funding, non-standard treatment regimens, low treatment completion rates and lack of systematic information.
What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious bacterial disease which most commonly affects the lungs. It is a communicable disease that you contract when you breathe the same air that an infected person coughs or sneezes in to. The symptoms of active TB are coughing (with sputum or blood), chest pain, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. The condition can be treated with a six-month course of antibiotics.
High cost of treatment: Tuberculosis (TB) is often referred to as a disease of the poor. This is because of the high treatment cost. Not everyone can afford the drugs used for treatment. Moreover, the most virulent form of TB remains impossible to treat because of the expense and is not covered under most government health systems.
System flaws and drug shortage: Prevention and control of TB is a challenge at multiple levels, requiring the united efforts of a diverse range of stakeholders including policymakers, administrators, technical experts and healthcare personnel. Lack of collective efforts has kept patients on the receiving end on many occasions. Moreover, the supplies have not been as per the demand. Such attitudes don’t encourage patients to come for their medicine.
Flawed Policy: The management and control of TB depends mainly on the policy. Execution of the policy has not been right; there has been inadequate implementation of infection control measures, and non-uniformity in the current, sporadic efforts of decentralised management.
Unresponsive Healthcare Staff: One of the systematic flaws that get in the way of TB treatment is unresponsive medical staff. Reviews have identified that diagnostics have been compromised in many cases. For example, people needing antibiotics have been given cough syrup. In many cases, healthcare personnel have not been given the right treatment despite the available medical supplies.
TB Complications: The crippling effects of tuberculosis often mean joblessness as the patient often just cannot work. It can make the patient to drop out of their work, and they move to a more supportive environment. The discontinued income makes patients drop out of the treatment as well.
Challenges of TB remain monumental. However, there is a way to go before the challenge is surmounted.
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