Tuberculosis is a disease of the poor as it is widely found in developing countries like India, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, revealing that India alone contributes 20 per cent of the disease burden across the globe.

“India contributes one fifth of the world TB cases. It has high morbidity and mortality rates due to tuberculosis,” South-East Asia regional director of WHO, Samlee Plianbangchang, said here on World Tuberculosis Day.

Plianbangchang said, “Though TB prevalence has been halved and mortality rate reduced by a third in South East Asia by the end of 2009, a social and economic protocol is necessary to curb the disease.”

“National TB programmes in the region face several challenges, like language and cultural diversities compiled with poverty, rapid urbanisation, huge population displacements and expanding the scope of services for a population of 1.74 billion’,” he added.

The WHO authorities also said that among the TB patients, over four percent have HIV infection too.

The WHO also released a regional report on TB control which estimates that South-East Asia registered 2.2 million TB patients in 2009. Almost 15 million patients have been cured in ten years, the global health watchdog’s report revealed.

Plianbangchang also said that due to greater participation of people other than just doctors in the TB control programmes, the detection rate has gone up in the region.

“Where such measures are in place, the number of cases notified has increased by up to 25 per cent, with treatment success rates over 90 per cent. The value of these social support programmes for TB, which is a disease of poverty, is clear.” he said.

Keywords: WHOTuberculosishealth