India under-reported TB for 15 years: WHO

Inaccurate estimates of the tuberculosis burden in India between 2000-2015, has led the World Health Organisation (WHO) to seriously underestimate the global TB epidemic.

The most crucial finding of the latest Global TB Report 2016 is that India had reported only 56 per cent of its TB burden in 2014 and 59 per cent in 2015. This massive underestimating will result in health authorities revising the global TB data. The WHO has noted with concern that the TB burden is, “larger than previously estimated, reflecting new surveillance and survey data from India.”

In 2015, an estimated 10.4 million people were infected with TB around the world — which is a jump of 500,000 from 2014. The disease killed 1.4 million worldwide in 2015.

The report said “In 2015, 6.1 million new TB cases were notified to national authorities and reported to the WHO. Notified TB cases increased from 2013–2015, mostly due to a 34 per cent increase in notifications in India.”

Revised estimates

The revised estimates put the incidence of TB in India at 217 per 1,00,000 population in 2015 as against the previously estimated 127 per 1,00,000. The report was released on Thursday and the WHO stated that the size of the epidemic has increased considerably because researchers have realised that earlier estimates in India — for the previous 15 years — were too low.

The revised estimates of new TB cases in India are 2.8 million cases in 2015 or 217 per 1,00,000 population and 2.9 million in 2014 or 223 per 1,00,000 population. The previously estimated figure was of 1.7 million new and relapse cases in 2015 (127 per 1,00,000 population) and 1.6 million new and relapse cases in 2014 (124 per 1,00,000 population). In the 2015 global TB report, the estimate for 2014 was that there were 2.2 million incident cases (167 per 1,00,000 population), with an estimated 74 per cent of incident cases officially reported.

Mario Raviglione, head of the TB program at WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, was quoted by the Science magazine as saying that India long has been “a major problem” because it has 400 million people living in poverty.”

According to the WHO, the substantial increase in reporting from India is due to the policy of mandatory TB notification. India made TB a notifiable disease in 2012 and rolled out a national web-based reporting system. “In 2014, the number of notified cases increased by 29 per cent compared with 2013, and the number of notified cases in 2015 was 34 per cent higher than the level of 2013. Most of the increase is related to improved coverage of notifications from the private sector in a small number of districts,” explains the report says.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 6:14:05 AM |

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