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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – December 9, 2002: Tuberculosis Control Program in India - 2002-12-06

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

There are more people with tuberculosis in India than in any other country in the world. Each year, tuberculosis infects about two-million people in India and kills nearly five-hundred-thousand people. However, this is starting to change. Researchers recently studied a tuberculosis control program in India. The study says the program has saved about two-hundred-thousand lives and more than four-hundred-million dollars.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study about the tuberculosis control program in October. The Indian government started the program in nineteen-ninety-three. Since that time, about three-and-one-half million patients have been examined for tuberculosis. Almost eight-hundred-thousand patients have received medical treatment.

Also, more than forty percent of India’s population can now get tuberculosis services. And more than two-hundred-thousand health workers have been trained to examine and treat people with the disease. This makes India’s tuberculosis control program one of the world’s largest public health programs.

Thomas Frieden (FREED-en) of the United States was one of the people who wrote the study. He says that India’s tuberculosis control program has strengthened the country’s general health care system. For example, he says the quality of work done in laboratories has improved.

However, Doctor Frieden says the program includes only half of India. He says the goal is to continue the program while extending it to the rest of the country. Doctor Frieden believes this will be difficult because of health threats from the virus that causes AIDS and because some forms of tuberculosis are resistant to drugs.

Currently, the World Health Organization estimates that about one-third of the world’s population are infected with the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. Tuberculosis becomes active in only about ten percent of all cases. However, it can remain in a victim’s lungs for years or even a lifetime.

Infected people spread tuberculosis by releasing particles from their mouths when they cough, sneeze, spit or talk. Signs of the disease include high body temperature and coughing.

A person with active T-B must take medicine each day for six to nine months to halt progression of the disease.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.


Adapted from a report by VOA's David McAlary