Home Institution

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

India: Health and Human Rights


Nearly 20 years ago, the World Health Organization declared tuberculosis as a global public health emergency, yet today TB still remains a major global health challenge. It is estimated that during 2012 8.6 million were infected with TB and 1.3 million died from the disease (WHO, 2013). Globally, more than one third of the population is infected with TB and, after HIV/AIDS, TB is the greatest killer world-wide due to a single infectious agent. 95 percent of the global TB burden lies within low and middle-income countries and among the 22 countries determined to be high epidemiological burden countries, India ranks as number one (WHO, 2013). Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease caused by the inhalation of aerosolized respiratory droplets containing various strains of mycobacteria, primarily Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Beltz, 2011). Most TB infections are latent, asymptomatic, and non-communicable; however, in approximately ten percent of cases, latent TB can progress into the active disease (Central TB Division, 2005). There are many risk factors for active TB including HIV, tobacco smoking, alcoholism, and malnutrition—all of which suppress the immune system’s response, making it more susceptible to infection (Singh, 2013).TB may infect any part of the body but it most commonly occurs in the lungs. Symptoms include persistent cough, weight loss, fever, and fatigue among other symptoms. Through strict compliance to a six to eight month rigorous course of antibiotic drugs, TB can be treated and cured; however, in some cases the bacterial strains are multidrug resistant leading to MDR-TB or XDR-TB (Central TB Division, 2005). After a few months of treatment a patient may seem symptom-free. But premature discontinuation of treatment, inadequate adherence to treatment, or improperly given treatment can lead to acquired drug resistance, making it a global public health concern (Beltz, 2011). In 2012, 450,000 patients were diagnosed with MDR-TB and 170,000 died due to it, although it is 6 estimated that in 2012 less than one in four patients infected with MDR-TB were detected (WHO, 2013).


International Public Health | Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion | Women's Health



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