- One person dies of TB every minute in India and 5 lakh every year. This despite the fact that most forms of TB are curable.
- Over 2.2 million people get infected with TB every year. The detection rate, according to the health ministry's figures, is just 66 per cent.
- Each patient infected by lungs TB (pulmonary TB) infects 10-15 others in a year
- Due to improper treatment and low detection rates, there are more than 60,000 cases of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB
- Government allocation to fight TB has come down from 5.4% of the total health budget in 2000-01 to 1.6% in 2007-08
Myth: TB infects only old, malnourished people living in unhygienic surroundings.
Reality: It infects all age groups. There is a resurgence of the disease, specially among the urban youth aged between 14 and 35.
Myth: It is a disease of the poor.
- Reality: The rich are equally at risk, owing to unhealthy lifestyles, marked by crash diets, stress, and erratic sleeping and eating habits.
- Myth: It is characterised by a racking cough and weight loss.
- Reality: TB can exist even in the absence of so-called common symptoms. The infected could be outwardly completely healthy.
- Myth: TB infects only the lungs and chest.
- Reality: It can infect almost all body parts, including brain, spine, lymph nodes, glands, liver, skin, genitals and uterus.
- Myth: TB is highly communicable, and largely incurable.
- Reality: Only TB of the lungs is communicable. The stigma against the disease is unjustified as with proper treatment, all types of TB are completely curable.
***When a former president was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the lungs while he was still in office, absolute disbelief is what he received the news with. How could he have contracted the 'poor man's disease', a malaise more at home in low-hygiene surroundings, he repeatedly kept asking his doctors. As if it wasn't enough, when his daughter had problems conceiving, and visited a clinic to have the cause of her infertility investigated, she too tested positive for TB of the uterus. So shocked was the then president that he refused to acknowledge the diagnosis and forbade any treatment for TB for his daughter. TB doesn't happen in the uterus, he kept telling himself. It's a disease of the lungs. Not wanting to contradict her father, the daughter went on to take treatment on the sly and is now a happy mother of two children.
Gout, they said, was the rich man's disease; the wretched of the earth had to contend with tuberculosis. Not any more. The scourge is now becoming an increasingly common phenomenon among the urban middle class—especially young people in the 14-35 age group. And it isn't just the lungs that the bacteria is lodging itself in, it's now nesting in the lymph nodes, glands, spine, brain, abdomen, liver, skin, groin, genitals and the uterus. Though no exact figures are available, doctors treating patients for the disease estimate that as many as one-third of them suffer from extra-pulmonary TB.