Millions of tuberculosis patients in India will receive daily treatment after the Supreme Court Monday ordered the government to change the current dosing practice amid activist claims it was endangering lives.
Around 2.5 million new cases of TB were reported in India in 2015, according to the World Health Organisation, the latest figures available for a country accounting for one in four global cases of the disease.
Around 200,000 people die in India every year from TB, according to various estimates. From October those with TB will get free daily tablets instead of three times a week.
Raman Kakkar, an activist who petitioned the country’s top court, said the government was fixated with the intermittent treatment even though the WHO has approved daily drugs.
The government’s reluctance to shift to the new dosage was causing a relapse of the disease in many patients and was even responsible for the development of drug-resistant infections, Kakkar said.
The government said it would switch to the new dosage after nine months, when the existing stock of medicines had finished.
It runs a national TB eradication program and provides free medicines for nearly two million infected people at government-run dispensaries. Last year The Lancet journal said more than a million TB cases remain missing from official statistics in India.