Qiagen, a world leader in sample and assay technologies, has offered assistance to India for targeted TB screening as the country has a huge burden of latent TB cases, having potential to develop into full-blown TB cases.
“We are working with governments in several countries like China where the authorities showed keen interest. We have already met the senior officials of the Health Ministry and are willing to help the government whichever way possible,” said Dr Masae Kawamura, senior director scientific and medical affairs at Qiagen.
“TB is a silent killer. There are 1.96 million active cases per year. About 40 percent of Indian population has latent TB. About 5-15 per cent of them could develop into active cases. India should go for targeted screening at a massive level, focusing the high risk areas. The question is whether the Government is willing,” she told Pharmabiz, during her recent visit to the country.
Dr Kawamura, a former TB Controller of San Francisco, said the target of the WHO is to reduce the prevalence of TB cases by 50 per cent by 2015. Globally, 2 billion people are having latent TB cases and some countries had gone for universal screening.
“There are advanced tools for screening the latent TB. We are ready to assist the Government in this regard,” she said. A TB clinician for more than 23 years, she was instrumental in making San Francisco to implement interferon gamma release assay (IGRA) as the first jurisdiction in the US.
One out every four TB patients were found to have diabetes. The government should introduce a system to screen all diabetes patients for TB and all TB patients for diabetes if the country wanted to fight TB effectively in the country, pointed out leading diabetologist Dr Anil Kapur, citing diabetes as high risk area for TB.
Pointing out the challenges of massive screening of latent TB in India, DDr Shalabh Malik, head of department of microbiology and clinical pathology at Dr Lal PathLbas, said the high duties on the diagnostic kits and technologies and lack of indigenously-developed tool kits make fight against TB more complex.