World Health Organisation and various healthcare institutes, as well as individuals, observe 24th March as “World Tuberculosis (T.B.) Day” to create awareness about the disease and extend their support to infected people across the globe. The theme for the year 2020 is “It’s Time to End T.B.”. While the world battles the deadly new coronavirus, TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. As per the best estimate, globally 10 million people developed TB out of which 27% were from India. There were new 27,90,000 cases in India alone in 2016. Also, the mortality rate of the new coronavirus is less than 1% as compared to the mortality rate for untreated active T.B. cases which is up to 66%. Although Covid-19 pandemic has erupted as a grave reminder of how an infection can travel across the globe, tuberculosis is the real threat killing a person every 21 seconds. In other words, we can call it the first global pandemic that killed around 1.5 million people in 2018 alone.
Currently, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India has taken some quick measures across the country to control the spread of Covid-19, including a nationwide appeal by Prime Minister Modi to follow Janta Curfew and lockdown of public transport till 31st March 2020. However, the ministry is equally focused on T.B. and has developed an ambitious National Strategic Plan 2017-25 for the elimination of the disease. Various measures taken by Government include free diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis cases, health education measures and active case findings. What’s important for us is to understand how different T.B. may be from recent Coronavirus or for that matter, how effective role can the preventive measures play in both the diseases. In either scenario, no government programme can succeed without active participation from people.
Following infographic lists down the major issues which create hurdles in Tuberculosis control in India. On closely understanding them, one might realise how well-connected these are to the recent outbreak of coronavirus.
Despite all the above difficulties, the general public and TB or Covid-19 patients can help the Government in TB and Covid-19 control?
Like Tuberculosis, Covid-19 is also curable. Concerted efforts of all stakeholders such as general public, patients and their family members, health professionals, health care institutions, government, lawmakers, media and NGOs will help the Government of India to achieve its ambitious goal of TB eradication by 2025 and spread of Covid-19 from entering the 3rd stage in India. So, let’s pledge our allegiance to the Government of India to follow their guidelines aimed at fighting these two deadly diseases. Also, stay alert in reporting severe health issues around us by connecting to emergency medical assistance from healthcare organisations like Ziqitza Healthcare for the greater good of the nation. This Word Tuberculosis Day, let’s unite and quarantine ourselves to stop Covid-19 from becoming another ‘Tuberculosis’.