India, home to around a quarter of the world’s TB cases, fairs poorly.

There were 10 million new cases of tuberculosis reported in 2019 and 1.4 million deaths. In a report titled, Step Up for TB 2020, experts from the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Stop TB Partnership have raised concerns over efforts to control the disease. The report notes that the pandemic has hindered the global response to TB. It covers 37 countries with high TB burden, home to 77% of the global estimated cases and 74% of global estimated rifampicin-resistant cases—India accounts for the largest share in both categories. New medical innovations to tackle TB are reaching very few people, and countries’ national policies are not in sync with WHO’s guidelines to tackle TB, the report found. For instance, of the 10 million cases, around 7 million people were diagnosed and notified to the WHO, and around 3 million people are likely off-radar.

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India, home to around a quarter of the world’s TB cases, fairs poorly. The report says India is taking a rather ‘conservative approach’ with respect to new medicines against drug-resistant TB. As of March 2020, India had 119,960 MDR-TB patients, who were eligible for bedaquiline—an oral drug for the treatment of MDR-TB. However, only 10,845 received their dosage. It is crucial that new medicines, like bedaquiline and delamanid, be used for the treatments as they are given orally and are less harmful than injections. Over a fourth of the surveyed countries do not use injectable-free, all-oral regimens for children with uncomplicated forms of drug-resistant TB. MSF and Stop TB Partnership calls for governments to accelerate their testing, diagnosis, and prevention of TB, and for donors to provide financial support for increased access to new treatments.

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