A report compiled by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Wednesday that over 24 lakh tuberculosis cases were reported in 2019. However, there were an estimated 26.9 lakh patients in the country last year, and therefore, around 2.9 lakh patients remained “missing”.

The TB Report 2020 said 24.04 lakh patients were notified or registered in the records of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, an increase of 12% over 2018. As many as 6.7 lakh patients were reported by the private healthcare sector.

Of the 24.04 lakh patients who were notified, 22.72 lakh patients were started on standard first line treatment. For the rest 1.32 lakh, no treatment had been initiated. The total number of “missing” cases and the number of cases for whom no treatment was initiated came to around 4.22 lakh.

Furthermore, the World Health Organization had estimated that 4.4 lakh people died of TB in 2018, The Hindu reported. However, the official report puts the toll at just 79,144. The government could not ascertain the status of 86,206 patients, the report said. In 14,318 patients, the treatment failed. More than 1.44 lakh patients were not evaluated at all.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who released the report, reiterated the government’s claim that India can eliminate TB by 2025, IANS reported. Vardhan said that some states and Union Territories, such as Himachal Pradesh and Lakshadweep, plan to eradicate TB much before 2025.

“Earlier the fight against TB was a herculean task but now it is not impossible,” Vardhan said. “We can win the fight against TB even before 2025.” The minister said that if India can get ready to fight the coronavirus within five months, it can also fight TB.

The report said that a “multi-sectoral” approach is necessary to eradicate TB by 2025. This approach will address determinants of TB that are beyond health, and expansion of TB services.

The report said that Uttar Pradesh has 20% of the cases of TB in India, followed by Maharashtra (9%), Madhya Pradesh (8%), Rajasthan (7%), and Bihar (7%). In 2019, out of one lakh persons, 159 people were found positive for TB, one of the highest incidences in the world.

The ministry said Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Nagaland, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Andhra Pradesh were the best performing states in 2019.