The Clock is Ticking
‘The Clock is Ticking.
Respiratory infections have been haunting humanity for a long time, and Tuberculosis is one such major infections. The world woke up to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic indicating how deadly respiratory illness can be. It is a grave reminder that health threats can travel across the continents much faster. Tuberculosis has been present in humans since ancient times. Skeletal remains show some prehistoric humans had TB. Researchers have found tubercular decay in the spines of Egyptian mummies dating from 3000 to 2400 BC.
World Tuberculosis Day is commemorated on March 24. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced the discovery of identification of the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease. In 1982, on the one-hundredth anniversary of Robert Koch’s presentation, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) proposed that March 24 be proclaimed an official World TB Day. Almost a decade for this day to be pronounced as World TB Day by the United Nations. Observation of the day is to raise awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.
The words latent, consumption and DOTS may evoke diverse responses, but they are all connected to TB. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease usually caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). TB generally affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections show no symptoms (latent TB), and ~10% progress to active disease. It was historically called consumption due to weight loss. Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms.
TB is a global disease found in every country in the world.TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers. Each day, nearly 4000 lose their lives to TB, and close to 28,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. It is estimated that one-quarter of the world’s population has a latent infection with TB. New infections occur in about 1% of the population each year. Most TB cases occur in South-East Asia, Africa, and the Western Pacific, with more than 50% of patients being diagnosed in eight countries: India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Bangladesh. Indicating hope, the number of new cases each year has decreased since 2000. It is estimated that about 40% of the Indian population is infected with TB bacteria, the vast majority of whom have latent TB rather than TB disease. WHO estimate puts the TB incidence figure of 2.64 million cases in India, that is about 193 per 100,000 population?
Prevention of TB involves screening those at high risk, early detection and treatment of cases, and BCG vaccination. Treatment requires the use of multiple antibiotics over a long period. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem with increasing rates of multiple drug-resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB). WHO-recommended Directly Observed Therapy, Short-Course (DOTS) treatment to patients.
Poverty deprived of nutritious food and lack of adequate health infrastructure leading to TB prevalence. The incidence of TB in wealthier nations is reducing, and so is the focus of the research. Sadly, most of the research relating to curing diseases and drug discovery is western-driven. The governments of developing nations need to wake up to reality and enhance funding and support research in finding cures to diseases affecting their people. Stigma is attached to TB. Fear of not able to or afford to cure is another worrying aspect of TB. Earlier methods of dealing with TB isolate people, and several cities have Sanitoriums where infected people are isolated and given treatment. Many vivid accounts shared on social media abiyt the problemns and situations dealing with Depression or Alchoholis, it is rarely seen any such social media activity.
The Clock is Ticking
The world is running out of time to act on the commitments to end TB made by global leaders.