World Tuberculosis Day 2020 Special with Dr. Shakila N: How is India Tackling Record Number of Cases?

In this special episode dedicated to World Tuberculosis Day 2020, special guest Dr. Shakila N., District Tuberculosis Officer, speaks with RJ Radha about the day, and the context of the theme for this year, ‘It’s Time’.

It was on March 24th, 1882 that Dr. Robert Koch had announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB). The annual observance, thus, has historic significance and is an opportunity to raise awareness, fight stigmatic narratives, and discuss advancements in treatment and support.

A report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2019 attested that India remains on the top of the table of countries recording the most number of TB cases, accounting for 27 per cent of the world total. When it comes to the states, Karnataka occupies the 11th position in terms of cases, making the need for awareness and prevention that much more urgent. It is important to remember that TB can affect any part of the human body except the nails and hair.

Advances in medication have improved recovery rates among patients in India; this access has been helped further by affordable rates of tablets. Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS or TB-DOTS) centres have come up in a big way and are providing critical support. In cases of persons undergoing treatment for TB, children from their families are also required to be tested and provided with vaccination. TB patients grapple with very low immunity levels, which is why proper nutrition is of life-saving importance to them. Under India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s ‘Nikshay Poshan Yojana’, patients undergoing anti-TB treatment are eligible to Rs. 500 per month for nutritional support.

Under the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP), ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers have been trained as providers of the DOTS (Reference – The workers are assigned duties to identify, refer, follow-up on and support the treatment of TB patients. Their work also includes raising awareness about the benefits of the Programme. The ASHA workers receive an incentive of Rs. 250 per case once the treatment has been completed. All details of TB patients in the country need to be registered with the Central Tuberculosis Division India online and every patient is provided with an ID number that can be referred to every DOTS centre.

“Any person at the basic TB stage can recover with the help of a 6-month treatment course but if the treatment is discontinued, then the patient will have to be in treatment for 20 months; this will now include high-dosage medication. The Government has taken many measures to tackle the number of TB cases and currently, 27 lakh people are under treatment.”

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