Controlling tuberculosis in India

N Engl J Med. 2002 Oct 31;347(18):1420-5. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa020098.


Background: Tuberculosis kills nearly 500,000 people in India each year. Until recently, less than half of patients with tuberculosis received an accurate diagnosis, and less than half of those received effective treatment.

Methods: We analyzed the effects of new policies introduced in 1993 that have resulted in increased resources, improved laboratory-based diagnosis, direct observation of treatment, and the use of standardized antituberculosis regimens and reporting methods.

Results: By September 2001, more than 200,000 health workers had been trained, and 436 million people (more than 40 percent of the entire population) had access to services. About 3.4 million patients had been evaluated for tuberculosis, and nearly 800,000 had received treatment, with a success rate greater than 80 percent. More than half of all those treated in the past 8 years were treated in the past 12 months.

Conclusions: India's tuberculosis-control program has been successful in improving access to care, the quality of diagnosis, and the likelihood of successful treatment. We estimate that the improved program has prevented 200,000 deaths, with indirect savings of more than $400 million--more than eight times the cost of implementation. It will be a substantial challenge to sustain and expand the program, given the country's level of economic development, limited primary health care system, and large and mostly unregulated private health care system, as well as the dual threats of the human immunodeficiency virus and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Disease Control / economics
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Cost Savings
  • Government Programs / organization & administration
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • National Health Programs / economics
  • National Health Programs / organization & administration*
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control*