- In 2016, Tuberculosis (TB) claimed around 1.7 million lives in the South-East Asia Region, despite most of these cases being curable. Over 10 million people get contracted to TB every year.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) in South-East Asia Region, which hosts about one-fourth of the global population, shares disproportionate 46% of the global TB disease burden.
- India has the highest number of tuberculosis TB cases in the World, stated Global TB Report 2017, released by WHO.
- On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s direction, a national strategic plan has been developed to eradicate TB by the year 2025.
- In 2017, a Lancet study predicted an increase in the number of drug-resistant TB cases in four high burden countries, including India.
- Currently, around 13 drugs are being used to cure TB. But, these drugs have become ineffective to treat multi-drug resistant TB.
While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Nishigandha Naik, Director of Haffkine Institute, said, “We are carrying out this research to find out new technologies for immediate diagnosis of TB, which can help treat patients in the nick of time, before their health worsens. The state government has supported us for this and approved a fund of Rs 1 crore. This research has been on-going since January. The Ph.D. students, who are studying in the institute, are carrying out this research. If this research is successful, it will be possible to get the TB test report in just an hour.”
Naik further added, “Often 20% of test cases reports show false positives, wherein a person is misdiagnosed with TB. Therefore, this research is currently being conducted on 10 to 12 patients and in future 500 to 600 patients are expected to be tested. Through this, it can be observed whether this technology is suitable for early detection of the problem or not.”
Dr Lalitkumar Anande, the Chief Medical Officer at Sewri’s Tuberculosis Hospital, said, “The number of TB patients is rising in Mumbai as well as across country. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has provided six ‘GeneXpert machines,’ through which, TB reports can be procured in just two hours. However, due to the increasing number of patients and an insufficient number of hospital staff, there is a delay in obtaining the test reports. It is heartening to know that the Haffkine Institute is carrying research on this. If this happens, it will definitely be beneficial for the patients.”