Tuberculosis (TB) is a deadly infectious disease which is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria (MTB). The disease is among the deadliest of all communicable diseases, killing millions of people each year all over the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) publishes annual reports showing which countries are worst hit by the tuberculosis epidemic. In the 2015 report, India and China were established as the countries having the highest rates of TB infections in the world.
Countries by Rates of Tuberculosis Infections
India has the highest rate of tuberculosis infections of any country with records from the World Health Organization showing that there were more than 1.74 million new and relapse tuberculosis cases in 2015. Tuberculosis is directly responsible for more than 220,000 deaths each year in India. Tuberculosis is also linked to the AIDS-related mortality rate, with one in three AIDS-related deaths in India being attributed to tuberculosis. The Indian government has been in a perpetual struggle trying to combat the disease which is the leading health problem in the country. The primary cause of the high prevalence of TB in India has been established to be the increased pollution in the country. Researchers have in recent years pointed out a direct relationship between levels of pollution in a region and the number of TB cases identified. The cost of tuberculosis treatment and diagnosis is out of reach for many Indian citizens, a situation which further aggravates the problem and is causing the increased tuberculosis mortality rate in the country. The cost of treatment for TB is increasingly a financial burden to the Indian government, which is struggling to bear with the disease costing the country as much as $43 billion in economic losses. Recently, the Indian government introduced a vaccine aimed at reducing TB infections in regions most hit by the epidemic.
According to the World Health Organization, there were about 804,163 new and relapse tuberculosis cases reported in China in 2015, the second highest in any country. Tuberculosis has become the number-one health problem in China with an estimated 400 million people having a strain of the disease. China has a quarter of the global tuberculosis burden. Tuberculosis is currently the leading cause of death in China from communicable diseases in adults. China has been making substantial progress in combating the spread of tuberculosis in the country after the launch of the Infectious and Endemic Disease Control project in 1990, after TB was identified as the cause of death of an estimated 360,000 persons in 1990. The ambitious program aimed to cut TB related deaths by 100,000 each year. However, the tuberculosis epidemic in China was worsened in the early 21st century after the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which brought with it a weakness in the public health system of the country.
Even with the world still reeling with the TB epidemic, matters have become even worse with the emergence of a new drug-resistant TB strain, formally known as multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). This type of Tuberculosis strain is usually resistant to some of the most powerful TB treatment medications. The TB bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) began resisting to usual TB medications through genetic mutations. MDR-TB has become a nightmare to health professionals all over the world, and the impact of the new strain is most felt in countries with high Tuberculosis infection rates such as India and China.