"Incidence of TB in India is declining at the rate of about 2 percent per year. However, in order to reach the TB elimination target by 2050, the rate should be 19 to 20 percent per year," WHO representative to India Nata Menabde said.

She, however, said that on using available strategies and technologies effectively, along with universal health coverage and social protection, the country could achieve a reduction of TB incidence rate of 10 per cent per year by 2025.

"To hasten the decline of TB incidence beyond that would require new tools such as new effective vaccines, new points of care, effective diagnostics and new effective shortened treatment regimens," she suggested.

Additionally, social determinants of TB such as under-nutrition, overcrowding and poor ventilation in slums and clinical risk factors such as diabetes mellitus, smoking etc should be addressed simultaneously, she added.

Citing the WHO Global TB Report 2014, Menabde said that India has already met the Million Development Goals (MDG) target of 50 per cent reduction in the prevalence of TB by 2015 compared to 1990. "India is also well on track for reducing TB death by 50 per cent by 2015," she stated.

Menabde said, "Public health measures such as contact tracing, chemoprophylaxis, HIV testing, treatment adherence monitoring, access to social support etc should also be available to patients seeking care at private facilities."

On social dogma attached to TB contributing to its spread in India, she said that "sustained and innovative mass awareness campaigns need to be developed to reach out to the community to reduce stigma associated with TB".

"Community support groups/NGOs can be effectively used to create awareness and both WHO and government of India should pursue these collaborations," she added.

According to her, the proportion of Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis (EPTB) in India was approximately 15-30 per cent and it was more difficult to diagnose and treat. She also stressed on the need for specialised care in some of its forms which are life-threatening, especially to children.

"Towards this goal, WHO's Global TB programme has designated Delhi-based AIIMS as the centre of excellence for EPTB to develop guidelines and tools for the management of EPTB within the TB programme. This collaboration is expected to develop new and improved strategies for diagnosis and treatment of extra-pulmonary TB in India," she said.

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