Are We Providing Quality Care to Our Patients with Tuberculosis?(Editorial)
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant global health concern, despite the substantial progress made over the past decade (1-4). Every year, nearly 9 million new cases of TB are reported, and nearly 2 million people die of this curable disease (1,2). The number of TB cases that occur in the world each year is still growing, although the rate of increase is slowing (1,2). The failure to fully engage and involve all health care providers in the delivery of high quality TB care is probably one reason that accounts for these worrisome global trends. Over the past decade, there has been a slow but steadily growing recognition of the importance of the private sector in provision of health care. In many parts of the world, private health care providers ate involved in the diagnosis and treatment of TB (5-8). This is especially true in India, where the private health care sector is dominant, and, largely unregulated. In India, more than half of all TB patients seek TB care from the private health sector, although this figure may vary considerably across the country (9). In addition, traditional healers, family physicians, chest physicians, medical college faculty, unlicensed practitioners, practitioners of alternative medicine, community health workers, and non governmental organizations (NGOs) all play important roles in provision of TB care. For a long time, the private sector was ignored by government-sponsored national disease control programmes in India. This, however, has changed in recent times, with a lot more emphasis on public-private mix (PPM) and partnerships involving multiple sectors (9). Indeed, engagement of all providers is an essential component of the new Stop TB strategy, including the Global Plan to Stop TB (2006-2015) (10).