India Declares TB a Public Health Emergency

Today’s guest blog comes from Dr. Nalini Krishnan, Director of REACH

It is a watershed moment in the fight against TB. The Government of India has officially declared TB a national emergency and launched a comprehensive survey of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the country.

This will be the largest survey of TB drug resistance ever conducted by far, covering over 5,000 people. It will provide valuable insights into how the disease is evolving at the community level and will lay the groundwork for a more robust TB surveillance system, which will strengthen treatment and prevention efforts countrywide.

This is great news for the global fight against TB, too. Lest we forget, India has more MDR-TB cases than anywhere in the world and accounts for a quarter of all TB-related deaths. The survey will provide the information and understanding of MDR-TB in large affected populations and this, in turn, should help inform public health policy and planning to manage TB drug resistance in other hotspots like China, Russia, and South Africa.

At REACH, which is part of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, we work closely with the media to  support  journalists to help bring the story of MDR-TB to a wider audience. We also engage and sensitize pharmacists and hospital administrators to tackle TB more effectively in the private sector. This new national survey will strengthen all of these efforts as we gain a better understanding of how MDR-TB is affecting the population.

I am very encouraged to see this level of political commitment by the Government of India which will bring new energy to TB control efforts and hope this will inspire other political leaders to step up in the global fight against TB.