HYDERABAD:More than 40 percent of tuberculosis (TB) cases are going undetected in the state thus posing a challenge to health care providers involved in controlling the disease. More than 40,000 new TB cases are detected every year in Telangana but health officials estimate that more than 70,000 people might get affected by TB every year in the state. With a large section of TB patients going undiagnosed and untreated, officials are facing problems in reaching out to the TB patients.
“It is shocking that more than 40 percent of TB cases are going undetected. Unless TB patients are identified first, we cannot reach them and treat them. Mostly, it is at private hospitals and nursing homes that TB cases go undetected or not notified. Therefore we are focusing on filling the gaps in TB diagnosis this year,” said Dr Srinivasa Rao, joint director of TB control programme, Telangana.
The health department has directed all private hospitals in the state to notify if any TB cases are detected at their hospitals. But most of the private hospitals have lent a deaf ear to the directions. More than 90 percent of cases detected every year in the state are from government hospitals or from health department staff like Asha workers who are engaged in fighting TB at ground level.
“We are working jointly with Indian Medical Association and taking up various programmes to sensitise private hospitals and nursing homes to notify TB cases. We are also contemplating severe action on hospitals and nursing homes which fail in notifying TB cases. As private hospitals are turning a blind eye to a serious health problem, we feel a stern action is needed,” said Srinivasa Rao.
It is not just private hospitals but even public health system needs to be strengthened in fighting TB. Though Revised National TB Control Programme has been taken up aggressively (RNTCP) and Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course (DOTS) has become successful, there are no advances in TB diagnosis or treatment for the past three or four decades.
“For 40 years we have been using the same medicines and treatment strategies in our fight against TB. Multidrug-resistant TB has become a new problem. There is an urgent need for innovation and research in TB treatment. Therefore, to encourage research, seven PG medical students have been funded to research on various aspects of TB diagnosis and treatment. These findings will be helpful in improving the treatments and assessing the effectiveness of present treatment at ground level,” pointed out Dr Srinivasa Rao.
World TB Day Observed
World TB Day was observed at Osmania Medical College (OMC) on Tuesday. Held on the theme, ‘Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone’, health department officials and staff stressed creating awareness, early detection and taking complete course of treatment for controlling TB.
“Still there is widespread ignorance about TB. More women die of TB than of maternal mortality. Identifying the missing TB cases and patient centric approach is needed for controlling TB,” said OMC principal Dr M Ramani.
Better nutrition, better house design, clean water and clean air are necessary for controlling TB. It is in areas with poor living conditions like slums that more TB cases are detected, pointed out Ramani. Health department staff and NGOs working in controlling TB were presented awards.
Gosha Mahal MLA Raja Singh Lodha, TB IEC officer S Jitendra and professor K Subhakar attended the programme.
Also read: Health Burden of Tuberculosis