GUWAHATI: The Assam government has planned to reduce the tuberculosis infection rate from present 217 per lakh to 3 per lakh by 2025 under the ongoing National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP) by 2025.
"If the rate gets reduced to 3 per lakh by 2025, we can declare Assam as a TB-free state," said a senior official of the state Health and Family Welfare Department.
A survey conducted in the country found the detection of TB among 217 of 1 lakh people diagnosed with the disease.
The NTEP has a vision of achieving a TB-free India with strategies under the broad themes of "Prevent, Detect, Treat and Build Pillars for Universal Coverage".
According to State TB cell's official figures, the annualized TB notification (public) was 94 per lakh up to June 2021, while it was 83 in 2020, 117 in 2019, 109 in 2018, 107 in 2017, 110 in 2014 and 115 per lakh in 2015.
The annual TB notification rate (private) was 18 per lakh up to June 2021, 17 in 2020, 23 in 2019, 15 in 2018, 7 in 2017, 12 in 2016 and six per lakh in 2015.
The official figures state 88 per cent of HIV positive people had TB up to June 2021, 86 in 2020, 71 in 2019, 44 in 2018, 48 in 2017, 50 in 2016. 40 per cent of HIV patients had TB in 2015.
The highest number of such patients are in Marigaon 998%), followed by Lakhimpur (98%), and Udalguri (96%).
Till September 2021, 224 of 978 TB patients tested HIV positive. In 2020, 1,172 TB patients tested HIV positive, Assam State AIDS Control Society (ASACS) stated.
The majority of the TB cases were from tea gardens of the state. Despite being curable, people continue to die of TB in tea gardens in the state.
About 16-18% of the workers in every tea estate have tuberculosis. There is no control over the infection and significant improvement in the situation over the years. "The blame goes to ignorance among the tea garden workers and lack of management support for this situation. The garden management has also taken proper preventive measures. The top management does not want 'too much development' for the labour community," said a health official.
Drug-resistant TB is now becoming common in tea gardens. Although the WHO-recommended Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course (DOTS) Programme, relaunched as the Revised National Tuberculosis Programme, has achieved success, leading to a slight decline in numbers, but HIV co-infection and multi-drug resistance TB (MDR-TB) is adding a new dimension and keeping the numbers high in the tea gardens of the state.