India: Alcohol Among Leading TB Risk Factors
Alcohol is one of the leading tuberculosis risk factors in India.
Alcohol, smoking and under-nutrition are the leading risk factors for Tuberculosis (TB) in India. India has the biggest burden of TB globally. The infection affected an estimated 2.69 million people and killed 449,000 in 2018, according to World Health Organisation Global TB Report 2019 released recently.
TB cases in the country have fallen and incidence rate has reduced to 199 per 100,000 from the previous 204. Yet India is nowhere near meeting their goal of less than 10 people per 100,000 by 2025. Drug resistant cases of TB have increased in 2018 compared to 2017.
The disease is treated for free under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, which is the world’s largest and fastest expanding TB control programme. Despite this the disease continues to wreak havoc in Indian communities and people’s lives.
Prevention has to be key in reducing the TB epidemic in India and alcohol control must be an integral part of the plan to reduce TB, as alcohol is a leading risk factor.
For a realistic chance of eliminating TB, we need to begin preventing the disease wherever we are treating it,” said Dr Paula I Fujiwara, scientific director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), as per Hindustan Times.
Alcohol control to reduce death and disease
A recent report by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE), Government of India, outlined the magnitude of alcohol harm in India and found:
- Alcohol is the most common psychoactive substance used by Indians.
- Alcohol use has been reported in all the age groups, including among children aged 10-17 years.
- Every third alcohol user in India needs help for alcohol related problems.
- Only about 1 in 38 people with alcohol dependence, report getting any treatment or help with alcohol problems.
The report also outlined reccomendations for reducing the harm which included increasing treatment for alcohol problems and strengthening alcohol control policy.
Alcohol use is a risk factor for many diseases, therefore, it is crucial to make alcohol control and treatment of alcohol problems a part of the plan in reducing any disease including the TB in India. Apart from improving the health of Indians strong alcohol control has many benefits such as cutting the social, health and economic cost of alcohol for the Indian society.