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India lagged in dispensing tuberculosis care last year, says WHO report

WHO fears that over half a million more people may have died from TB in 2020, simply because they were unable to obtain a diagnosis.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
March 23, 2021 6:32:34 pm
Dr. Sudhir Kothari, Dr. Kinjal GoyalDr. Sudhir Kothari and Dr. Kinjal Goyal, authored the book Blind to the Mind, Illness Beyond Disease.

India is among the countries which lagged in dispensing proper medical care to tuberculosis patients last year. An estimated 1.4 million fewer people received care for TB in 2020 than in 2019, according to preliminary data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) from over 80 countries. The figure marks a 21 per cent reduction from 2019.

The countries with the biggest relative gaps were Indonesia (42 per cent), South Africa (41 per cent), Philippines (37 per cent) and India (25 per cent), said a new report released by WHO on Monday evening.

Many people who have TB are unable to access the care they need. WHO fears that over half a million more people may have died from TB in 2020, simply because they were unable to obtain a diagnosis. Even before Covid-19 struck the human population and metastasized into a global pandemic, the gap between the estimated number of people developing TB each year and the annual number of people officially reported as diagnosed with TB was about 3 million. The pandemic has greatly exacerbated the situation.

World TB Day is observed on March 24 each year to raise awareness and understanding about one of the world’s top infectious killers and catalyse action to address its devastating health, social and economic impact around the world.

“The effects of COVID-19 go far beyond the death and disease caused by the virus itself. The disruption to essential services for people with TB is just one tragic example of the ways the pandemic is disproportionately affecting some of the world’s poorest people, who were already at higher risk for TB,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General while addressing a virtual conference.

New book offers peak into consulting rooms of docs

Blind to the Mind, Illness Beyond Disease, is a book written by Dr Sudhir Kothari (MD, DM, FRCP, UK), eminent neurologist from Pune, and Dr Kinjal Goyal, (PhD), a psychologist who specializes in psychosomatic disorders. The book offers a candid peek into the consulting rooms of doctors across various specialties. They narrate heartfelt stories about patients who taught them how the mind and body exert a strong influence over one another during the course of any ailment.

The virtual launch of this book was held on March 21 where Nobel Laureate Dr Ruth Mitchell, a neurosurgeon, Prof Dr Jon Stone, founder of the Functional Neurological Society, Edinburgh, psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty, and neurologist Dr R S Wadia were present.

The authors, both practicing in Pune, have worked on the understanding and assimilation of case studies over many years. With contributions from eminent doctors in various faculties of medicine, the book highlights the role of the mind in the cause, maintenance and cure of various diseases.

Doctor speaks on overcoming hesitancy to initiate insulin therapy

Before the discovery of insulin, diabetes was a fatal condition. The only treatments available at the time were fasting and calorie-restricted diets (often called a “starving diet”), but nothing was really effective to maintain adequate levels of blood glucose and keep people with a severe form of diabetes (today known as type 1 diabetes) alive for more than a few months.

Insulin was discovered by Sir Frederick G. Banting, Charles Best, and John Macleod at the University of Toronto in 1921. In an interview with The Indian Express, Dr Prof Hemraj Chandalia, who founded the Association of Diabetes Educators eight years ago, said that we are able to overcome the hesitancy to initiate insulin therapy by making the patient inject a demonstration dose of insulin in the clinic. Cost also is a factor with newer insulin analogues, but human insulin, which is a very standard form of therapy for masses is low-priced.

“Many patients get worried when even the number of essential oral medications go up. At times, the alternative systems of medicine like Ayurveda or Homeopathy lures them into complacency. Overall, we need to educate our patients to accept the appropriate treatment early on, as the delays are detrimental to their health. Type 1 diabetes, which usually starts in childhood forms only 2 per cent of the total diabetics we see in India. They need insulin all their life and continue to be on this therapy. Type 2 diabetes is rampant in India,” he said.

“On the other hand, long standing Type 2 Diabetes (longer than 10 years), often needs insulin therapy. This group of patients continue to try multiple combinations of tablets for years before accepting insulin therapy. Thus, only about 30 percent of Type 2 diabetics are on insulin in India. This therapeutic inertia leads to a lot of vascular and neurological complications of diabetes. These people continue to have high sugar levels. Overall, only about 20 percent of our diabetic patients are achieving desirable goals of good control. There is no doubt that we need to remedy this situation and again, education is the best tool to achieve our goals,” he said.

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