India tops world in unreported tuberculosis cases

India tops world in unreported tuberculosis cases

WHO estimates that more than 41 lakh people currently suffer from TB but have not been diagnosed with the disease

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

India has not only topped the world in missing tuberculosis cases last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic but also is far ahead of the next three countries taken together, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.

The countries that contributed most to the global reduction in tuberculosis (TB) notifications between 2019 and 2020 were India (41%), Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%) and China (8%). These and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total global drop in notifications.

In a report published last week, the WHO estimates that more than 41 lakh people currently suffer from TB but have not been diagnosed with the disease or have not officially reported to national authorities. This figure is up from 29 lakh million in 2019.

Also read: Tuberculosis deaths on the rise again globally due to Covid-19 pandemic: WHO

The two countries with the largest absolute reductions in notifications between 2019 and 2020 -- India and Indonesia -- had previously been the main contributors to the large global increase in TB notifications between 2013 and 2019.

Their combined annual total number of notifications increased by 12 lakh in that period but then fell by 7,00,000 between 2019 and 2020.

Globally, such negative trends meant that TB treatment coverage in 2020 was 59% -- down from 72% in 2019.

The world health body estimated that approximately 15 lakh people died from TB in 2020 (including 2,14,000 among HIV positive people) and the increase in the number of TB deaths occurred mainly in the 30 countries with the highest burden of TB including India.

India accounted for 38% of global TB deaths among HIV-negative people and for 34% of the combined total number of TB deaths in HIV-negative and HIV-positive people

The WHO modelling projections suggest the number of people developing TB and dying from the disease could be much higher in 2021 and 2022.

The 30 high TB burden countries accounted for 86% of all estimated incident cases worldwide and eight of them accounted for two-thirds of the global total with India topping the list with 26% cases followed by China (8.5%), Indonesia (8.4%), the Philippines (6%), Pakistan (5.8%), Nigeria (4.6%), Bangladesh (3.6%) and South Africa (3.3%)

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