A study by the ICMR and the TB institute of Chennai has conclusively established that the mortality risk of Tuberculosis patients is greatly reduced by 60 per cent with the intervention of dietary support, especially if it leads to weight gain within two months.
Tuberculosis, predominantly caused by Mycobacterium TB, is one of the oldest known communicable diseases. In India, “National Tuberculosis Control programme (NTCP)” was launched in 1962. However no appreciable change in the epidemiological situation of TB in India has been observed to overpower the disease declared as a Global emergency in 1993 by WHO.
Importantly, the study quantifies how under-nutrition, a known leading risk for TB, can be tackled. Among others it called for giving monthly provisions of a 10-kg food basket of rice, pulses, milk powder, oil and multivitamins to the patients. This, it said, can reduce the incidence of all forms of TB by 40 per cent and of infectious lung TB by 50 per cent among those in contact with the victims for six months. The family members need 5-kg rice and 1.5-kg pulses per head per month to stay safe from infection.
There is need for a multi-pronged approach to remove the barriers to equitable TB care. There is a need to increase occupational screening, nutritional interventions for the malnourished and a gender-responsive approach to TB. These measures are crucial in addressing the gaps to control the disease.
Also, unfortunately society has attached a social stigma with TB. Awareness among people is to be spread to eradicate this attitude and create a conducive environment so TB patients do not face any inconvenience.
There is need to step up efforts in view of report by National TB Prevalence Survey 2019-21, revealing that the tuberculosis burden in India is 1.6 times higher than previously estimated.
India TB Report 2022 has concluded that the prevalence rate of TB in the country is 312 cases per 100,000 people. Even though the numbers have reduced marginally from 320 in 2015 to the current figure between 2019-2020, it is still far higher than the target set by the 2017 National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination: 170 by 2020, 90 by 2023, and 65 by 2025. But even these worrying figures do not reveal the entire picture. Giving wholesome dietary rations to all underprivileged sections is expected to better serve to eradicate the disease.