According to the available data, in 2015, 10 million people were diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and another 1.4 million died from it. Yet these numbers do not tell the whole story. TB is a far bigger challenge than it appears, but we lack accurate data on the global disease burden. Since 2011, GHS has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, experts and policymakers in India – home to the majority of the world’s TB patients – to improve the national TB program and to ensure that every case is counted.
GHS has engaged and sensitized parliamentarians to the hidden burden of TB in India and its devastating effects on the population. As a result, in a historic first for India, parliamentarians came together across party lines to form the Global Coalition against TB (GCAT). The GCAT also created an ‘Expert Group’ of Indian health leaders to facilitate interactions between experts and policymakers. GCAT has consistently leveraged Indian and international platforms to spread awareness, build support among stakeholders, work with government agencies, and suggest recommendations to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to improve TB control in the country.
Within a year of GHS’ work on TB in India, members of GCAT helped drive a landmark policy change – making TB a ‘notifiable’ disease that health care providers must report to the Indian government. To facilitate the notification of TB cases by private providers, the government introduced a cloud-based data collection software called Nikshay. As a result, notified TB cases worldwide increased significantly between 2013 and 2015, mostly due to a 34% increase in notifications in India. Fully understanding the scope of the TB challenge will be essential to stop the disease.
TB notification in India increased by 34% between 2013 and 2015.