24th March is celebrated across the world as World TB Day – this was the day when Dr.Robert Koch discovered the TB bacillus way back in 1882 which opened doors to treatment. The WHO has recognised this day as on one of the eight official global public health campaigns designed to spread and promote awareness of tuberculosis – causes, prevention, cure and eradication – which still remains an epidemic in developing countries. Most deaths occurred in low and middle income groups in poor communities and vulnerable groups. The idea of a World TB Day is to mobilize political, government and social authorities to come together and work towards effective reduction of deaths due to TB. This year’s theme is #UniteToEndTB
So what exactly is TB? It is an infectious bacterial disease that commonly affects the lungs – although different types can affect other parts of the body. It is easily transmitted from one person to another through droplets of the infected person. Spitting out sputum, phlegm and blood is the fastest way TB spreads. Discourage spitting at all costs. Typical symptoms include coughing up blood or phlegm, loss of weight and appetite.
Over one-third cases are not diagnosed and if diagnosed, they are left untreated. Partially, the patients themselves are to blame for the persistence of TB. The diagnosis is fairly simple – a simple X-ray of the chest. The good news is TB is relatively straightforward to cure with the availability of antibiotics and new-age diagnostic tools. Did you know all medicines needed to treat TB patients are available free of cost at Indian Government hospitals? It is a completely curable disease given the low-cost DOTS treatment.
In commemoration of the upcoming World TB day, the Union Health Minister of India, JP Nadda has launched – Bedaquline – which is a new path-breaking drug that treats multi-drug resistant TB. He is very positive that along with compassion needed to treat TB, this revolutionary drug can eradicate TB completely from India. This landmark drug is from the stable of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson &Johnson firm based in the US. The WHO has issued guidelines on how to use the drug which will be introduced in 104 districts spread across 5 states of India who contributes one-fourth of all the cases worldwide.