A doctor examines a tuberculosis patient at a hospital in India.Credit: Photo: Associated Press

Among estimated 10 million people infected globally with TB, 26% lives in India.

Globally, an estimated 10.0 million (range, 8.9–11.0 million) people fell ill with TB in 2019.There were approximately 1.2 million people died in the same year—reduced from 1.7 million in 2000.

Eight countries accounted for two-thirds of the global total: India (26%), Indonesia (8.5%), China (8.4%), the Philippines (6.0%), Pakistan (5.7%), Nigeria (4.4%), Bangladesh (3.6%) and South Africa (3.6%).


Males aged over 15 years accounted for 56% of those who developed TB in 2019, while women accounted for 32% and children (aged <15 years) the remaining 12%. Among all those affected, 8.2% were people living with HIV. 

As per report TB global incidence rate is falling; however still lower than the expected target of 20% reduction between 2015–2020. From 2015–2019, there was a total reduction of just 9% — from 142 to 130 new cases per 100,000 population. Between 2018 and 2019, there was a 2.3% reduction.

All Member states of WHO and UN committed to end TB epidemic through their adoption of WHO’s End TB Strategy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What is Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a communicable disease and is a major cause of ill health, one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent (ranking above HIV/AIDS). TB is caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is spread when people who are sick with TB expel bacteria into the air; for example, by coughing.

It is a curable and preventable disease. About 85% of people who develop TB disease can be successfully treated with a 6-month drug regimen; treatment has the additional benefit of curtailing onward transmission of infection.

Currently there are three major health care intervention: Preventive treatment, infection prevention and control and vaccination of children with the bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine.

It is also considered as disease of poverty, and economic distress, vulnerability, marginalization, stigma and discrimination are often faced by people affected by TB.


Impact of Covid-19

With the onset of the great pandemic, the Government of India initiated a nationwide lockdown on 24 March 2020 in line with a similar approach around the globe. As human civilization went reeling stress, the pandemic has had a negative impact on access to TB diagnosis and treatment.

The report states that there could be between 200,000-400,000 excess TB deaths in 2020, bringing the total to about 1.6–1.8 million if health services are disrupted to the extent that the number of people with TB who are detected and treated falls by 25-50% over a period of three months. An increase of 200,000 would take the world back to 2015 levels and an increase of 400,000 to 2012 levels.

The Pandemic is also predicted to worsen the key determinants of TB incidence: GDP per capita and under-nutrition. The report suggests that the number of people developing TB could increase by more than 1 million per year in the period 2020–2025. The impact on livelihoods resulting from lost income or unemployment could also increase the percentage of people with TB and their households facing catastrophic costs.

Drug Resistant TB

An estimated TB incidence in India is 193 per 100,000 population. Total number of estimated cases in India around 2.64 million. Of these, 2.8 per cent are new cases. 

In terms of Drug-resistant TB, India accounts for largest burden.

Report states that Drug-resistant TB continues to be a public health threat. Worldwide in 2019, close to half a million people developed rifampicin-resistant TB (RR-TB), of which 78% had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Largest share of such patients is from India and in range of 27%. The three countries with the largest share of such cases are from India, China, and the Russian Federation.

The Report is published by The World Health Organization (WHO) in Oct 2020. The report is continuously published every year since 1997.

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