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BMJ Glob Health. 2019 Jan 30;4(1):e001097. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2018-001097. eCollection 2019.

Tuberculosis: treatment failure, or failure to treat? Lessons from India and South Africa.

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Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
Medical Research Council-CAPRISA HIV-TB Pathogenesis and Treatment Research Unit, Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
McGill International TB Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Tuberculosis (TB) remains an enormous public health concern globally. India and South Africa rank among the top 10 high TB burden countries with the highest absolute burden of TB, and the second highest rate of TB incidence, respectively. Although the primary drivers of TB transmission vary considerably between these two countries, they do indeed share common themes. In 2017, only 64% of the global estimated incident cases of TB were reported, the remaining 36% of 'missing' cases were either undiagnosed, untreated or unreported. These 'missing TB cases' have generated much hype for the challenges they present in achieving the End TB Strategy. Although India and South Africa have indeed made significant strides in TB control, analysis of the patient cascade of care clearly suggests that these 'missed' patients are not really missing-most are actively engaging the health system-the system, however, is failing to appropriately manage them. In short, quality of TB care is suboptimal and must urgently be addressed, merely focusing on coverage of TB services is no longer sufficient. While the world awaits revolutionary vaccines, drugs and diagnostics, programmatic data indicate that much can be done to accelerate the decline of TB. In this perspective, we compare and contrast these two national epidemics, and explore barriers, with a particular focus on the role of health systems in finding the missing millions.


India; South Africa; missing millions; tuberculosis control

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