The TB Paradox

Tuberculosis TB

     What causes much more death and tragedy throughout the world, for several decades than Covid-19, but does not cause panic and hysteria, and, is not considered an emergency?

It’s TB Folks! Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis – or TB, as it’s commonly called — is a contagious infection that usually attacks your lungs. It can spread to other parts of your body, like your brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes it. WebMD

The TB paradox – we don’t fear TB, as much as we fear Covid-19?

TB and covid-19 are spread in exactly the same way. Check this out.

     TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected. (GHO- Global Health Observatory)

The mystery! 

Why don’t we practice isolation, stay home, wear face masks, keep a safe distance from people who cough and sneeze, or, shut down for even one second due to TB, as we do for Covid-19?

     TB is one of the top 10 causes of death in the world. A total of 1.5 million people died from TB in 2018 (including 251000 people with HIV). Worldwide, TB is one of the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause from a single infectious agent. WHO

TB Facts: WHO2018 – data

     In 2018, an estimated 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) worldwide. 5.7 million men, 3.2 million women and 1.1 million children. There were cases in all countries and age groups. But TB is curable and preventable.

     In 2018, 1.1 million children fell ill with TB globally, and there were 205 000 child deaths due to TB (including among children with HIV). Child and adolescent TB is often overlooked by health providers and can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

    In 2018, the 30 high TB burden countries accounted for 87% of new TB cases. Eight countries account for two thirds of the total, with India leading the count, followed by, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa.

Global Health Observatory (GHO) Data – 2017

Estimated New TB Cases: 10.0 Million (Range: 9.0–11.1 Million).

     Notified: 6.4 million new TB cases were officially notified to national authorities and then reported to WHO. Https://Www.Who.Int/Gho/Tb/Epidemic/Cases_Deaths/En/

1400 people in India die every day due to TB

TB is extremely dangerous because it has been prevalent for years. India accounts for about 24% of the global prevalence and 21% of the global TB deaths. Clearly, TB is a huge problem. It is spread the same way as Covid-19, i.e. it is transmissible through droplets, so if we are within 3 to 4 metres of an infected person who speaks, sneezes, spits or coughs, we can be infected and become a TB patient, and if we are lucky we could be cured with treatment, or we could be one of the around 5 lakh people who die of it in India every year.

India has been engaged in Tuberculosis (TB control activities for more than 50 years). Yet TB continues to be India’s severest health crisis. TB kills an estimated 480,000 Indians every year and more than 1,400 every day. National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis elimination 2017–2025

The puzzle is still inside the conundrum

TB has been playing havoc throughout the world for several decades. We are still puzzling over why are precautions never taken against TB?

There is no answer to the question of why we in India do not take the spread of TB and the great number of deaths it causes as a pandemic and take precautions in the same way it is doing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is difficult to understand our response to TB’s treacherous threat to our health and to our lives. Why we don’t fear TB even though it has proven itself over so many years to be much more dangerous than pandemic flu’s. We take TB completely in our stride, and with great composure. There is no fear, panic, anxiety or stress due to TB, as is our response to Covid-19.

We don’t believe TB is, and has been, a great threat to our lives for over five decades, it kills 1400 people in India every single day. Many more than corona virus.

It is also puzzling how have we been managing to live our lives without isolation, face masks, human distancing, and without disrupting our lives and livelihoods as we are doing against Covid-19, though we have been living for decades under the clear and ever-present danger of mass killing TB. It is a puzzle inside a conundrum.

Pratap Antony writes on ecology and environment, social justice and pluralism, management ideas and issues, jazz and western classical music and Indian classical dance.           




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