“India has the highest burden of Tuberculosis (TB) in the world, accounting for approximately one fifth of the global incidence. Out of 9.4 million new TB cases, 2 million are estimated to have occurred in India, with an approximate 280,000 people succumbing to TB in 2009, according to TB Control India. As India prepares to become a global superpower, TB care and control remains a critical challenge,” said Dr Madhukar Pai, Associate professor of epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and a consultant for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of conference on TB Diagnostics in India here, Dr Madhukar Pai, who also co-chairs the Stop TB Partnership’s Working Group on New Diagnostics opined that undiagnosed and poorly managed TB continues to fuel the epidemic. Recognizing these challenges, the Government of India has set an ambitious goal of providing universal access to quality diagnosis and treatment for all TB patients in the country.
The current in-vitro diagnostics market in India is dominated by imported and generic products, with virtually no innovations. However, Indian diagnostic companies could also become the world’s hub for high-quality diagnostics through generic production of superior and affordable vaccines. India has the potential to lead the world in developing innovative TB diagnostics. For this to happen, the Indian industry must innovate in both product development as well as delivery. This will require permissive policies, enhanced funding, and greater collaboration between government, donors, researchers and the private industry.
Dr Madhukar Pai, further said, “As the most important link between decision makers and citizens, the role of media is of immense importance in informing the public about the issues surrounding TB diagnostics in the country. The media needs to highlight the importance of TB diagnosis, the implications of delays in diagnosis and create awareness regarding inappropriate diagnostics.
“The key challenge for the media in India is to get decision makers and the public to understand the gravity of the situation better through journalism formats that can be easily accessed by all,” he concluded.