CHENNAI: Monday morning wasn’t just another day for prison inmates at the Puzhal Central Prison. At the amphitheatre, inmates clad in white waited for a chest X-ray. They were told about tuberculosis, its dangers, diagnosis and treatment.
To mark World Tuberculosis Day, the Huma Specialists Hospital and Research Centre, along with the Rotary Club of Madras South West organised a camp to screen inmates of the prison for early signs of tuberculosis or other respiratory disorders.
The Huma Shasun TB Care Project, as its called, intends to screen about 3,000 inmates for both men and women for over 34 days. “This is the first screening for TB we are conducting at the prison. And we are planning to conduct such camps at prisons in Salem, Cuddalore and Vellore as well,’’ said Dr Hizamuddin Papa, managing director of the Hospital.
The project aims at ‘active’ diagnosis. Instead of waiting for patients to come to the hospital, by which time the disease has already set in, health workers are trying to identify high risk groups and screen them to try treat the disease.
“People living in the close confines are the high risk groups, which is why we screen migrant labourers, slum dwellers, factory workers and now prisoners,’’ said Dr Papa.
At present, the prison has four inmates with tuberculosis who require treatment. They obtain medication from the Tambaram Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine. However, if several cases are diagnosed after the screening, Dr Papa said they would ask the prison authorities if it was possible to provide the medication at the prison hospital itself.
Additional Director General of Police, R Nataraj, said that smoking had been banned in all prisons in the State. “Though there are some instances of inmates sneaking in for a smoke, it is virtually not present in our prisons,’’ he said, adding that a good immune system was essential to combat the disease. And this required a good lifestyle.
Once the X-rays have been analysed, the doctors will perform a sputum test for those with lung abnormalities to confirm for TB.