'Union Health ministry has no TB prevalence data'

Union health ministry has no TB prevalence data but wants to eliminate it by 2025

Karnataka is one of the nine states in India with a high burden of TB. 

India wants to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the World Health Organisation’s Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating the disease world over by 2030. But the country has no prevalence data of the disease. It did its prevalence last survey 64 years ago in 1956.

Vikas Sheel, Joint Secretary (Policy), who looks after the National TB Elimination Programme, in the Union Health ministry, said at a press conference in Bengaluru on Monday, “For understanding TB disease burden, we have to have prevalence estimates. For TB, unfortunately, we do not have burden estimates, even at the national level, let alone for the state level.”

Karnataka is one of the nine states in India with a high burden of TB. 

“A TB prevalence survey was done in 1956. After that no survey was ever done. After the National Strategy Plan was launched, a new national TB prevalence survey has been started, the report of which will be available in the later part of this year. At that point of time, we will know disease burden at the national level as well as state wise, as the current survey is taking state- wise figures also,” Sheel said.

So what are we working with now? “Right now we are working with is secondary estimates given by WHO’s World TB Report for national-level incidence and estimates worked out based on TB drug sale data, past trends of TB notification etc. It is not fair on our part to compare disease burden (one state with another). The triangulation suggests that Karnataka is notifying approximately all TB cases that are estimated to be there in the population,” Sheel added.

There are some states where there is no gap between the estimated number of cases and number of cases notified, for example, Kerala, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry. “These states have been working on it for the last 15 years and they have such good systems that they catch all TB patients in the population,” he said. 

Last year, Karnataka notified 91,318 TB patients out of whom 71,998 were from the public sector and 19,320 were from the private sector. The annual TB case notification rate of Karnataka is 135 cases per lakh population in 2019.

In 2012, the state made TB a notifiable disease and ever since 29,245 private health facilities have been registered for TB notification. The private sector contributes to 29 cases to total case notification rate.

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