Issue Date: Feb 29, 2012
In December last, when doctors at Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai raised the alarm over a deadly form of tuberculosis, the Union health ministry was quick to refute the claim. In its press release on January 17, the ministry said the term “totally drug resistant TB” is “misleading”; it is neither recognised by the national programme for TB control nor by WHO. But WHO has received reports of a similar strain of TB bacteria before: first from Italy in 2007 and then from Iran in 2009. With India becoming the third country to have raised the concern, it has now convened a meeting of global TB experts in March to discuss whether the strain should be called totally drug resistant (TDR), or be clubbed under the existing category of extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), given that advanced drugs are in the making and that it is not possible to test TB bacteria against every possible drug and concentration.