The world could see 1 million additional cases of tuberculosis due to malnutrition after the pandemic
There could be a 1 million increase in tuberculosis cases worldwide, and India will not achieve its goal of eliminating the bacterial infection by 2025, said the World Health Organization chief scientist and former director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.
Tuberculosis affects about 10 million people each year worldwide and kills 1.4 million. It is the leading infectious cause of death.
“The pandemic affected the TB program worldwide, with the GeneX pert machine (which can be used to perform RT-PCR tests) and the staff was diverted to the management of Covid-19. The blockade and other restrictions also led to a drop in GDP which, in turn, would increase malnutrition. This malnutrition could lead to a million more TB cases a year, ”said Dr Swaminathan, during the recently concluded India International Science Festival.
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“TB notification was reduced by 50-60% during the pandemic, which could result in an increase in cases in the future,” he said.
India reported 2.69 million TB cases in 2019, representing 26% of the global burden of infection. India had set a goal of eliminating tuberculosis, defined as restricting new infections to less than one case per 100,000 people, by 2025.
“The pandemic has definitely hit India’s goal of ending tuberculosis by 2025,” he said.
However, the pandemic offered many lessons and forged collaborations with the private sector that can be used to find innovative solutions to help the country meet its goal of eliminating the bacterial infection, he said.
“There were many innovations to address the challenges of Covid-19. Many of these innovations can be used for tuberculosis, such as new testing methods, contact tracing applications, and creation of vaccine testing sites. The private sector also stepped up for manufacturing. This could help India get the program back on track, ”he said.