India carries highest tuberculosis burden, WHO reports

With 2 million new tuberculosis cases in 2009, India carries the highest tuberculosis burden in the world, though the country’s NGOs and government have improved their intervention, according to a World Health Organization report.

In 2009, 1.3 million people died from TB in the world,  reports. India’s TB deaths accounted for 280,000 lives. The mortality rate was higher in patients who had TB related to HIV/AIDS.

The WHO comprehensive report, dubbed the Global Tuberculosis Control 2010, says that while significant improvements were made in tackling the curable and deadly disease, multi-resistant TB strains are leading to more infections in countries like China, Russia and India.

“India has the highest TB burden in the world and despite spectacular interventions there were 2 million new cases in India,” Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the Stop TB Department at the WHO, said, according to “The government and the private sector have remarkably scaled up their intervention to tackle TB and there have been significant advances in India.”

Raviglione said that 43 Indian labs have been strengthened for diagnosis of TB, but major challenges lie ahead for counteracting multi-resistant TB, especially in unhealthy and poor environments.

The report concludes that while the private sector of India is close to the biggest private source of TB medicines in the world, management of TB patients in the private sector may be of uneven quality.