Hyderabad: An estimated 40 per cent of the population in India has ‘latent tuberculosis’ and 5 to 10 per cent of them develop active tuberculosis in their lifetime. While it is very difficult to diagnose latent TB, it is important that those in contact with active TB patients are counselled so that they can act fast when their immunity is compromised.
The biggest problem in India is that due to lack of proper awareness, those who live with TB patients believe that they will never get it, which is not the case.
Dr Karuna Sagili is technical adviser and researcher at the Union for TB, the International Union against TB and Lung Disease. She spoke to Deccan Chronicle about the fight against active and latent TB which must be tackled together to reduce the incidence and control the spread of the disease.
What preventive steps must be taken when a family member is suffering from TB?
Counselling is very important for the family members of TB patients as they must be guided on what are the infectious points. The living conditions in terms of hygiene have to be very clear.
The family must ensure that there is adequate and balanced nourishment.
Family members have to be counselled by the healthcare field workers.
Is counselling being done for Latent TB Infection in India?
The out-patient department of hospitals are hard pressed for time. Doctors in India are concentrating on treating effectively active TB. There is a gap and it has to be filled by the health workers who must be able to communicate properly to the family. They must be careful as the disease has a lot of stigma attached to it.
Where immunity is low, why is it that some get TB while others do not?
There are other factors that could contribute here — factors that affect one’s ability to fight disease. Socio-economic aspects like poverty-related issues come into play.
Perhaps a person does not get enough to eat or is malnourished. Smoking is a big contributor.
Also, indoor air pollution (like using wood and agricultural waste for cooking, especially in rural areas; second-hand smoking) and poor living conditions where many live in the same room and ventilation is poor (which we see in urban
We must address all these contributing factors as well.
How is this linked to the vision of India's goal to eliminate TB by 2025?
Latent TB Infection is a major contributor to the existence of TB in India.
Addressing this will help to fast-track other strategies to eliminate TB.
India's commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is linked to this. The SDGs are multisectoral and in achieving them, latent TB is also one of the important issues....