Tuberculosis 

 

Tuberculosis (TB) killed 1.3 million people worldwide in 2012, while India alone accounted for 26% of total TB cases globally, the WHO said on Wednesday as it expressed concern over drug-resistant forms of the disease. The “Global tuberculosis report 2013” released in Geneva found that global TB deaths decreased to 1.3 million in 2012, which is 100,000 less than the previous year.

 

The most common treatment for Tuberculosis involves the prescription of one or more of the six antibiotics (pyrazinamide which inhibits fatty acid synthesis, isoniazid which inhibits mycolic acid synthesis, cycloserine or ethambutol which inhibit cell wall biosynthesis, capreomycin which inhibits the bacterium’s peptide synthesis, or rifampicin which acts on RNA polymerase) for the long term, usually between six months to three years.

 

Even though these anti-tuberculosis medications have been available for decades now, death rates and incidents of the infectious disease have not been declining significantly in India. For this reason, a government supported program called DOTS has been implemented in the regions of the country since 1993, and since 2006 has been extended to provide coverage to all of India’s population of more than one billion people. The strategy of the DOTS program (or Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme as it is known in India) is to provide plentiful medication and supervised care to all those infected with the disease(7). All affected individuals are guaranteed the necessary amount of the top anti-tuberculosis drugs for the whole course of treatment. Furthermore, the affected individuals are supervised to ensure the proper intake of the medicine.

Under the program, any individual can be screened for the disease free of charge (10). Today, the success rate of the program is 85%, meaning that 85% of all those who receive or have received treatment are no longer infected with Tuberculosis(11). Though the program has shown significant success in treating and diagnosing emerging cases of the disease, Tuberculosis is still a major problem in India as is evident by the appearance of drug resistant tuberculosis due to patients that do not complete the medication treatment for the prescribed term that has been a result of economic hardships(11). It would be fair to say that with improved quality of life more affected individuals would be able to complete the advised anti-tuberculosis treatment, since most of those affected live in poverty.