A year after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced to investigate into tuberculosis (TB) deaths across Mumbai, the decision still remains on paper, says Right to Information (RTI) data gathered by the Praja Foundation.
According to the RTI query, since July, when the civic health department had first announced to conduct ‘verbal autopsy’ of each tuberculosis deaths in 16 high-risk wards, not a single investigation has been held till now.
Praja data indicates a staggering 21 deaths each day, on an average, due to TB since April 2010. The city accounted for 42,837 TB cases in 2014-2015 financial year, of which maximum cases were from L-ward comprising Kurla.
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By verbal autopsy, the BMC aimed at focussing on key areas of TB such as age of patient, duration for which he suffered from the disease, treatment provided to him, whether proper medication was given, and if the patient had stopped medication mid-way. The move had come in days after Praja had first reported about the high discrepancies between tuberculosis count recorded by the BMC and the count indicated by death certificates of health department.
Dr Daksha Shah, heading the tuberculosis cell at BMC, said, “The delay has been in getting approvals from the state government to start this process. We will once again initiate procedure to start investigating the TB deaths. So far not a single death has been probed.”
In 2014, the BMC reported 1,351 deaths due to the air-borne infection as opposed to 6,589 deaths reported through tabulation of all death certificates. Since 2010, RTI data by Praja indicates that the figures attained from deaths certificates are at least 400 per cent more than those reported by the BMC.
BMC claims that the difference in figures is because TB has been mentioned on the death certificates even though it is not the reason for deaths and incorrectly entered by medical officers. However, with rise in drug resistant cases, health experts claim it has become necessary to understand the bacteria strain and its progression in the body.
Deaths due to tuberculosis have steadily risen from 1,185 in 2010 to 1,351 in 2014.