BENGALURU: The pandemic has put the brakes on the state health and family welfare department’s plans for Kshaya Muktha Karnataka (Tuberculosis-free Karnataka). The plan is to take place at the grassroot levels, that is, TB-free gram panchayats.
The programme would involve inter-department coordination between the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Health, Labour, Urban Development, Woman and Child Development department, other government agencies, involving NGOs as well.
“Community participation is needed to prevent delay in diagnosis of TB. Gram panchayats will be the principal stakeholders of all TB activities to realize the dream of a zero TB village. The panchayat will be the focal point to get suspected patients for early diagnosis as it is a curable disease,” said a health department official.
Currently, Primary Health Centres are the first point of public health care. But with only one or two medical officers and 38 different health programmes to implement, there is little room to focus on TB.
Just as Covid has become a household topic of discussion, the idea is to make discussion around TB the same in Karnataka. This project is on the lines of PM Narendra Modi’s target of making India TB free by 2025.
“Panchayats will help identify vulnerable populations, ensure screening for TB, indulge in social mobilization and help reach out to people. There is also a need to destigmatize TB. For all this, cooperation is required from grassroot level politicians and administration of the government,” the official said, adding that in urban areas, the misconception among well-off sections of society is that they cannot contract TB.
Discussion on implementing this project with various gram panchayats has brought an overwhelming response and support from the members. However, the health department is unable to proceed with the plan with all the attention and resources of the state government focused on fighting Covid. From January to September this year, the state has reported 45,839 cases of TB, of which 6,336 patients were cured and 2,634 patients died.
The deaths recorded here could be directly due to TB, comorbidities or road traffic accidents. As per the WHO, every year, 10 million people contract TB. Despite being a preventable and curable disease, 1.5 million people die from TB each year-- making it the world’s top infectious killer.