Universal access to early and improved tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis is critical to achieving the TB-free India envisioned by the Government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Revised National TB Control Program’s National Strategic Plan 2012–2017 (NSP) outlines objectives necessary to expand access to quality TB diagnosis in India, including the establishment of 73 culture and drug susceptibility testing laboratories by 2015. Expanded access to drug-susceptibility testing (DST) is important for identifying and characterizing drug-resistance to ensure that TB patients are treated with appropriate regimens that will result in cure and prevent the development of further resistance.
Given the Government of India’s track record, it is not surprising that the end of 2015 has come and gone, and eight months into 2016, just 24 labs are certified to perform DST for medicines used to treat drug-resistant forms of TB. In all of India, there are only 64 certified culture and drug susceptibility testing laboratories, severely limiting access to quality TB diagnosis and DST.
In 2014, only 37 percent of India’s reported drug-resistant TB cases were laboratory confirmed. In order to ensure that all patients receive early and appropriate diagnosis and treatment, the Government of India must be held accountable to its commitment to scale up the availability of DST nationwide.
 Government of India, Central TB Division. TB India 2016: Revised National TB Control Programme Annual Status Report. India: Government of India; 2016.