Lessons from COVID-19 for TB Control 

  • IASbaba
  • February 19, 2021
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  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Lessons from COVID-19 for TB Control 

Context: The WHO reports that there are more than 10 million active TB cases in India. The country loses more than 4,00,000 lives every year due to TB (COVID-19 Pandemic resulted 1,54,000 deaths over one-year period).

Tuberculosis is a social disease because of following reasons

  • Due to overcrowding and malnutrition, it disproportionately affects the poor and the marginalised.
  • The stigma and myths associated with this disease lead to underreporting and under-diagnosis. 
  • The long-drawn multi-drug treatment leads to poor compliance and drug-resistance, which hamper recovery.
  • Complications increase with a pre-existing illness like diabetes or co-infection with HIV. 
  • Finally, the chronic nature of the disease and propensity to damage multiple organs increase mortality risk.

The lessons learned during the COVID-19 battle can do a lot in controlling TB i.e. Community driven efforts can help government’s target of TB-free India by 2025

  • Since TB spreads through droplets of infected persons, physical distancing can reduce disease transmission.
  • Patients with TB must wear a mask to prevent the spread of infection, and persons in the patient’s regular contact should wear a mask for self-protection.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to success. One should use new diagnostic techniques that gives rapid and ultraprecise results compared to the traditional sputum test. 
  • Finally, instant case notification helps in better case tracking and contact monitoring.
  • The fight against COVID-19 has led to increased awareness of respiratory infections, which may help remove the stigma associated with TB. 
  •  India’s efforts to contain the coronavirus succeeded due to improved coordination among central and state governments and innovative media campaigns which can be replicated for TB


A successful community-driven strategy, as shown during the Swachh Bharat campaign or COVID-19 control, if dovetailed with the existing TB control programme, which provides free diagnosis and treatment, can accelerate TB elimination. 

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