For the second year in a row, India has landed the dubious distinction of being number one in the world for deaths from tuberculosis: 423,000 TB patients died in the year 2016. That’s a third of the world’s 1.4 million death toll.
India, of course, is not the only country where TB is a bane. In the 20th annual edition of the World Health Organization’s global tuberculosis report, India’s high volume of TB deaths is followed closely by Indonesia, China, the Philippines and Pakistan.
And TB is now the world’s deadliest infectious disease, causing more annual deaths than HIV.
There is good news in the report. Globally, the rates of TB actually dropped in 2016. Even in India, there was a 12 percent drop in the number of deaths from TB compared with last year.
But the number of fresh TB cases in India only dropped three percent. In a population of 1.324 billion people, that translated to 2.7 million new cases in 2016.
Why is India bearing the brunt of these infections? And will the government be able to meet its goal of eliminating tuberculosis by 2025?