A few weeks into the initial phase of the anti-TB drive and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has already started facing its first set of hurdles. Gathering details about TB patients which was an essential process of the drive,has been hindered due to difficulty in tracing those patients who had dropped out the Directly Observed Treatment,Short-course (DOTS).
While the BMC has managed to collect details of the 900-odd patients who were diagnosed with Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR TB) last year,officials admit that it is difficult to keep track of those patients who drop out of treatment mid way.
We have managed to re-register around 100 patients who had not completed their treatment. However,it is nearly impossible to get back to each and every patient. Unfortunately,most often the patients who stop medication are the ones who develop resistance and catch the amplified version of the disease, said Dr P Keskar,TB officer of the BMC.
As many as 826 MDR patients have been reported from the Hinduja Lab,while Religaire and Breach Candy reported 80 and two MDR patients respectively. Metropolis and Lilavati Hospital are yet to provide the figures. Doctors have constantly been stressing the importance of continued medication,failing which increased resistance develops. Currently,four drugs which are used for the treatment of Extensively Drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) are not yet distributed to civic hospitals under the Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP).
The BMC is trying to overcome this problem by integrating the RNTCP with the public health system. A major reason for patients dropping out of treatment is the high cost of salvage drugs in the private sector. Now,every patient,even if he has been seeing a private practitioner will be registered under the RNTCP and will have access to low cost drugs. Cost of medicine should not be a reason for exclusion from treatment, said Manisha Mhaiskar,additional municipal commissioner,BMC