Tuberculosis

24 January 2017

Indian court orders daily TB treatment for millions

Tuberculosis patients in India will now receive daily treatment after activists claimed that current dosing practice was endangering lives.

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Millions of tuberculosis patients in India will receive daily treatment after the Supreme Court ordered the government to change the current dosing practice. This follows after activists claimed that it was endangering lives.

Read: Call to action: You can help end SA’s TB epidemic

Around 2.5 million new cases of TB were reported in India in 2015, according to the World Health Organisation, the latest figures available for a country accounting for one in four global cases of the disease.

Around 200,000 people die in India every year from TB, according to various estimates.

Government reluctance

From October those with TB will get free daily tablets instead of three times a week.

Raman Kakkar, an activist who petitioned the country's top court, said the government was fixated with the intermittent treatment, even though the WHO has approved daily drugs.

Read: You too could have TB

The government's reluctance to shift to the new dosage was causing a relapse of the disease in many patients and was even responsible for the development of drug-resistant infections, Kakkar said.

The government said it would switch to the new dosage after nine months, when the existing stock of medicines had finished.

It runs a national TB eradication programme and provides free medicines for nearly two million infected people at government-run dispensaries.

Last year The Lancet journal said more than a million TB cases remain missing from official statistics in India.

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