India to start universal screening for tuberculosis, leprosy: Health Minister

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Health Minister on Monday announced that India is all set to start universal screening for tuberculosis and leprosy. The announcement was made by the minister while listing the achievements of the NDA government in the last four years.


  • Government is starting universal screening. At the age of 30 years, everyone will have to be screened not just for diabetes, hypertension and cancers, but also for tuberculosis and leprosy,”
  • India accounts for the largest number of TB cases in the world and 60 per cent of the global burden of leprosy. At 27.9 lakh, India’s TB incidence in 2016 was down marginally from the previous year’s 28.4 lakh. The number of TB-related deaths was 4.35 lakh, down by 15 per cent from 5.17 lakh.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a suo motu commitment that India will eliminate TB by 2025, ahead of the global sustainable development (SDG) deadline of 2030.
  • All states except Chhattisgarh and the Union Territory Dadra and Nagar Haveli have eliminated leprosy. In March 2016, 551 of the 669 districts in the country had a prevalence of less than one per 100,000 population which is defined by WHO as elimination.
  • The latest figures for maternal mortality ratio show that three states — Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra — have already achieved the 2030 SDG targets.


  • The programme to eradicate leprosy was launched way back in 1955. “The goal of leprosy elimination as a public health problem that it prevalence rate of less than one case per 10,000 population at the national level, was achieved in 2005,” PM Narendra Modi said on January 30. A total of 86,000 cases are on record as on April 1, 2014, giving a prevalence rate of 0.68 per 10,000 populations, as per data from The Leprosy Mission Trust of India.
  • A World Health Organization (WHO) report from 2016 says that India, along with Brazil and Indonesia account 81 per cent of the newly diagnosed and reported patients globally.
  • In its pathway to eradicate the stigmatized disease, the government launched programmes to screen and detect cases under National Health Mission in 2016. As a result, more than 32,000 cases were confirmed and put on treatment.
  • In August 2016, India also developed and launched its own leprosy vaccine, piloting it in five districts across Bihar and Gujarat. The first-of-its-kind leprosy vaccine was developed as patients were showing signs of resistance against the conventional multi-drug therapy.


  • Tuberculosis (TB) continues to claim many thousands of lives in India each year. A recent estimate by WHO suggests that India accounts for over a quarter of the world’s tuberculosis cases. The organisation increased its estimate of the number of new TB patients in India, from 2.2 million in 2014 to 2.8 million in 2015.
  • India has been funding public health programmes to control the incidences of TB since the 1990s, but eradication seems distant. Many cases of TB remain undetected making it difficult to cure patients. Increasing drug resistance is causing complications and adding to the challenge of TB control.
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