New Delhi: The government on Tuesday unveiled a major campaign to raise awareness about tuberculosis as an expert criticised the government for failure to tackle the disease which claims about 1000 lives in India daily.
The government and health groups on the eve of World Tuberculosis Day launched the campaign fronted by Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan to curb the disease in India.
India accounts for an estimated 2.2 million of the 8.6 million new cases of tuberculosis that occur globally each year, according to the World Health Organisation.
An online article published in the British Medical Journal on Monday slammed a chronic shortage of funds and the government's inability to regulate an "exploitive" private health sector.
Terming the disease as India's biggest health crisis, the article called for massive investment in public health infrastructure.
More than 300,000 people die in India of the airborne-disease annually.
“The government's TB programme was failing to monitor the burgeoning private health sector. This is where most patients with TB seek initial care despite extensive evidence of inaccurate diagnostics and inappropriate treatment," said the author of the article, Zarir F. Udwadia, a doctor at one of Mumbai's biggest private hospitals.
“India's anti-TB programme has spent a "derisory" five billion rupees ($80 million) annually on tackling the disease, the least among the BRICS group of developing nations,” he added.
Talking to media persons, Health ministry secretary (top official) B.P Sharma said India was taking "giant steps forward" towards addressing the disease through more innovative detection and more accessible treatment, but conceded "there are many challenges that remain".
“More than 60,000 cases in India of drug-resistant and extreme drug-resistant cases -- costly to treat and with low survival rates,” Sharma noted.
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda stressed on the crucial role that various stakeholders, including people's representatives at various levels, can play in fighting the scourge of the disease in the country.