How Tuberculosis Continues To Be A Burden Even In COVID Times With Effective Tips To Prevent The Condition

Know how TB is completely curable and can be prevented in the times of COVID-19. Inputs from an expert from Max Hospital Vaishali.

Written by: Puru Bansal Updated at: 2021-04-01 18:27

Tuberculosis, Rajaykshma or Kshay rog, is an ongoing menace even in the 21st century. In 1995 WHO started commemorating this day to emphasize public health challenges due to tuberculosis. In 2015, WHO recognized TB as a global epidemic and major health concern claiming millions of lives every year. Dr Sharad Joshi, Principal Consultant, Pulmonology, Max Hospital Vaishali, shares, “Therefore, I came up with “End TB Program”. Proposing 95% reduction in deaths due to TB by 2035, 90% reduction in TB incidence and Zero-TB affected families facing catastrophic treatment cost by 2035.” 

Steps Taken To Eradicate TB?  

In our country, the burden has been enormous and to address the problem we have a national health program to focus on TB since 1962. In 1997 it was renamed to RNTCP as Revised national tuberculosis Program, simultaneously revising the strategy to combat TB. In 2020 govt. of India re-organized this to NTEP national TB elimination program to achieve “End-TB targets” 5 year earlier to WHO timeline.

With the emergence of HIV infection lead to tuberculosis re-emergence, a difficult scenario to treat. In the year 2020 world saw a new pandemic of COVID-19 SARS-2. According to an estimation through modelling work a 25 % reduction in TB detection during lockdown due to COVID pandemic would cause 4-million excess deaths due to TB. COVID-pandemic threatens to unwind all efforts and achievements to control TB in the last few years. COVID-Pandemic led to:

  • Reduced reporting and case detection   
  • Mobilization of health workers to COVID-care from TB program   
  • Fund transfer from TB program to Pandemic care   
  • Gen expert and lab-machines utilized for COVID rather than TB   
  • Access to TB drugs affected   
  • The stigma of TB complexed with Stigma of COVID led to further lowering case-detection.   
Also Read:  Can There Be A Learning From COVID-19 Testing System for Tuberculosis Management? 

TB Is Curable– Dr Joshi

Remember, TB is a curable and preventable disease; therefore if diagnosed early and properly managed, lives can be saved, and so can families and economies. Stigmatizing and hiding such disease would prove to be havoc. The same stands true for COVID disease.

Fact to remind, TB can affect anybody system like brain, meninges, eyes, skin, Pulmonary, Pericardial, pituitary gland, Lymph nodes, larynx or voice box, abdominal TB, TB of genital organs, Urinary tract, TB of the prostate, testicular TB etc. Low fever, cough, weight loss, loss of appetite are common symptoms and other symptoms can vary according to organ involvement. At times patients may deny any symptoms. Genital TB might present with infertility.

Risk Factors Of TB

Diabetes, HIV, poor nutrition, are risk factors for developing tuberculosis. Other causes like overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitation, ill-treated cases, not following Cough protocols lead to spread of infection. During the lockdown, social distancing and face-mask usages have helped break the transmission chain of tuberculosis too. In fact, all respiratory infections were cut down.

Also Read: Doctor Explains The Signs And Symptoms Of Tuberculosis

How To Prevent TB From Happening  

Clock-is Ticking. Time is on the move, and so is tuberculosis. While you read this, people are getting infected, falling sick to this microscopic monster, lives are lost due to this pre-puranic microbial disease even in Mars mission age. Wake-up, know your enemy, enemy of healthy human life and society, combat at all levels. The fight is not of any individual or the Government but for every one of us. Foremost step, Stop coughing and spitting openly. Our ex-president and missile- man late shri APJ kalam said once, “my country is my home” and we should not litter or spit in public places, it's not a garbage box. Single step can significantly cut down the spread of TB.   

(With inputs from Dr Sharad Joshi, Principal Consultant, Pulmonology, Max Hospital Vaishali)

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