July 9, 2015 / 12:24 PM / 4 years ago

Funding crunch affects India's fight against TB: report

Jotindra Singh, 65, suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) waits for his free treatment outside a medical centre in Siliguri March 24, 2009. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s programme to fight tuberculosis is in disarray due to a shortage of funds and the government has failed to meet annual targets to control spread of the nation’s most fatal infectious illness, a leaked assessment report said.

India records more than 300,000 tuberculosis-related deaths and 2.2 million new cases of TB each year, resulting in an economic loss of $23 billion, the government says.

The report was drafted by several experts including those from the government’s TB division and the World Health Organization. The draft is not in the public domain but was leaked on the Internet by health activists late on Wednesday.

Reuters could not verify its authenticity.

“There is a growing gap between the allocation of funds and the minimum investment required to reach the goals,” according to the report that was seen by Reuters.

“As a direct result, while bold policies are in place, many planned activities have not been implemented.”

Under the plan, India failed to achieve the projected increases in detection of those suffering from the disease. In the year ending March, 1.42 million TB patients were given treatment, compared to the target of 1.65 million patients.

The report warned if the funding trend continues, spending on the plan would drop to about 30 billion rupees ($472 million) by 2017, only two-thirds of the minimum amount required.

The findings come as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced criticism for not allocating enough money to the public health system, which is plagued by drug shortages and dilapidated health clinics.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Andrew MacAskill and Jeremy Laurence

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