India's tuberculosis nightmare could be much worse than thought. A new study based on analysis of the sale of anti-TB medicines across India has estimated that there could be two times more drug sensitive TB patients than currently assumed.
The study, jointly done by the Indian government, the Imperial College of London and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, confirmed that more Indian TB patients seek treatment in the private sector than the public sector.
While previously it was assumed that India's annual burden of TB cases stands at roughly 2.2 million a year. The study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal suggests that this number at over 3.8 million in 2014.This excludes drug-resistant TB cases.
Dr Sunil Khaparde, who heads the Central TB Division and is an author of the Lancet study, said, "We realized the number of patients coming to the private sector were underestimated.”
“The study now analyzed the medicine sales and found that this number alone could be as high as 2.2 million as against the 8 lakh we had previously estimated," Dr Khaparde added. It means into a three times jump in the number of cases in the private sector.
The study's main author Dr Nimalan Arinaminpathy , who is from the School of Public Health at Imperial College said, "TB is a major global health issue, and India bears a large proportion of the world's TB burden."
In a study published in the Indian Journal of Tuberculosis in 2004, if was found that in just one Mumbai ward of Andheri 94 cases registered with the government programme, while there were 363 cases in laboratories and radiology centres.