Tribune News Service
New Delhi, Nov 18
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday said COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted the country’s fight against infectious diseases and TB notifications this year had been 29 per cent less than the corresponding period last year.
Addressing the 33rd Stop TB Partnership Board meeting digitally on Wednesday, the minister said, “During the period of January-October 2020, only 14.5 lakh TB cases have been notified which is 29 per cent lower than the same period in 2019, with the decline being over 35-40 per cent in some states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Goa.”
Central data, however, shows the silver lining in states like Sikkim, Telangana, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha which have witnessed less than 20 per cent impact on TB services even during the lockdown period.
“These states strategised to integrate their TB case finding activities with COVID preventive measures,” said Vardhan.
Acknowledging that COVID-19 has turned the clock back by many years, if not decades, in the fight against infectious diseases, Vardhan said, “The deadly virus has derailed our painstaking efforts of many decades and diverted scientific attention from many infectious killer diseases like TB.”
“The lockdowns have raised insurmountable barriers for patients and people are still living in fear of the coronavirus. We all know that the last 10 months have seen treatment interruptions, hindered availability of drugs, shrinking supply of diagnostic tests, delays in diagnosis, interrupted supply chains, diversion of manufacturing capacity and imposition of physical barriers for patients who must travel to distant clinics to pick up the medications,” he said.
The minister said systems created for Covid-19 would be repurposed in the future to fight TB.
India has committed to eradicating TB by 2025, ahead of the WHO’s 2030 target. The country houses one in four TB cases globally.