Patients suffer as Odisha runs out of medicines for TB

The supply has, however, been fully stopped for over a month now severely disrupting the elimination programme.
A relative adjusts the oxygen mask of a tuberculosis patient at a TB hospital. Image used for representational purpose only
A relative adjusts the oxygen mask of a tuberculosis patient at a TB hospital. Image used for representational purpose only(Photo | AP)

BHUBANESWAR: Even as Odisha government has set an ambitious target to eliminate TB by 2025, patients in the state are facing an acute shortage of necessary drugs forcing many to skip their doses, which is strongly discouraged by medical practitioners.

The treatment of drug-sensitive Tuberculosis consists of two months of four drugs - Isoniazid, Rifampicin, Ethambutol and Pyrazinamide followed by two months of three drugs - Isoniazid, Rifampicin and Ethambutol.

Official sources said the drugs are usually supplied by the Centre to states under the National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP). The supply has, however, been fully stopped for over a month now severely disrupting the elimination programme.

Odisha is at present ranked second in the country in terms of TB notification and the state has over 50,000 patients under treatment. While Himachal Pradesh tops the list, Odisha is followed by Andhra Pradesh. The notification of cases has gone up by nearly 45 per cent post Covid-19 pandemic.

Thousands of patients in high prevalence districts like Balasore, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Khurda, Mayurbhanj, Ganjam, and Kandhamal and other districts are forced to return empty-handed from Tuberculosis Units (TUs), which have run out of drugs. TB drugs are also out of stock in several district headquarters hospitals.

A social worker Bijaylaxmi Routray, who works for TB patients, said the situation is precarious in the state. “We had never faced such an acute shortage of TB drugs. Patients have been subjected to short supply since January when they were provided drugs for a week or two instead of a month. Now they are asked to wait as the drugs are not at all available in the government supply chain,” she said.

While several patients have already discontinued the medicine, the shortage of drugs is likely to push the cases of drug resistant TB. “I have been without drugs for more than a fortnight. I do not know what will happen to me. I am scared now,” said a patient.

Although districts have been asked to procure the medicines locally to mitigate the crisis, drugs are found to be not available in the open market as per demand. “We had floated a tender last month. No store came up with the bid to supply the required quantity of drugs,” said a district official.

Meanwhile, the state government has taken it up with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Health authorities had also raised the issue during the recent visit of Union Health secretary Apurva Chandra, who has assured that the supply would be smooth once the procurement is over for 2024-25. “We are expecting the supply of drugs soon,” said joint director (TB) Dr Arghya Pradhan.

Lull in battle

The TB drugs are supplied by Centre to states under NTEP

Supply has fully stopped for over a month

50,000 patients under treatment in the state

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