Keeping TB away with a healthy diet

Of the many risk factors for TB, the one that we need to pay most attention to is undernutrition. File

Of the many risk factors for TB, the one that we need to pay most attention to is undernutrition. File  

ICMR to monitor 2000 patients in Jharkhand to determine role of good diet.

Can a healthy diet stave off tuberculosis? The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will monitor 2000 TB patients in Jharkhand and additionally ensure that they are well fed to determine the extent to which a good diet can influence tuberculosis treatment.

While the link between a healthy diet and effectiveness of drugs used to treat TB may appear obvious, previous attempts at supplementing patients’ diets with micronutrients alone have not led to significant health improvements. “What we plan to do so is ensure that a cohort group gets wholesome nutrition and ideal care and then quantify its benefits,” said Soumya Swaminathan, Head, ICMR. Given the infectious nature of tuberculosis, the study is also designed to test if — beyond the patients under scrutiny — the villages where they reside also show a decline in disease incidence.

The department is drawing inspiration from an experiment in the early 20th century in England, where tuberculosis patients — in the absence of viable drugs — were given a nutritious diet. It turned out, said Dr. Swaminathan, that overall health in the community vastly improved as the patients got better and spread less disease to family and neighbours.

The outcomes of the study, which is expected to last over a year, will influence an ongoing government proposal to provide cash assistance to tuberculosis patients to help them with adequate nutrition.

Under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), the Health Ministry is mooting a proposal to provide ₹ 5,000 to those affected by TB. Several States offer cash assistance to Below Poverty Line families afflicted by tuberculosis. “If malnutrition emerges as a key factor in tuberculosis, that would mean funds have to be accordingly provisioned to address it,” Dr. Swaminathan added.

According to a report earlier this year from the World Health Organisation, death from tuberculosis in India saw a 12% decline from last year and the number of new cases, or incidence, saw a 1.7% decrease. With 2.79 million new cases in 2016, India continued to be the largest contributor to the global burden with up to a quarter of the 10.1 million new cases of TB.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 1:43:06 AM |

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