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Indian doctors find success in tackling the ‘invisible burden’ of tuberculosis

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Studies by the hospital in 2011 found 5.7 percent of MDR-TB patients under the home care program quit treatment compared to the national average of 23 percent. The death rate under the word-cloud-world-tuberculosis-day-related-healthcare-concept-respiratory-system-diseaseprogram was 6.9 percent compared to the average of 23 percent.

Each year India has 2.2 million new cases of TB, more than 300, 000 deaths, and economic losses of $23 billion, prompting the nation’s president to call for greater efforts to curb its spread, especially with the emergence of MDR-TB, a form resistant to front-line drugs that is hard and costly to treat.

All cases of TB are hard to treat and require months of antibiotics. Symptoms include coughing, sometimes with sputum or blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss and fever.

“TB is a major health problem which afflicts mainly the young and working population of our country. It is unfortunate that in India even today one person dies every two minutes due to this menacing disease,” President Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement last week to mark World Tuberculosis Day.

“There is urgent need to build public awareness about the curability and prevention of this disease.”

Under a revised government TB control program, patients must report to local TB centers six days a week to have their daily drugs administered but from the 19 million patients treated since 1993, only 3.4 million have been cured.

Experts say more than drugs are needed as patients often lack employment, nutrition, decent housing, and good healthcare.

“When TB is diagnosed, patients and their families must receive counseling, nutrition, and economic support,” ZarirUdwadia, consultant physician at the P.D. Hinduja National Hospital in Mumbai, wrote in the British Medical Journal.

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