At Akurdi, 22-year-old Rishi Patil (name changed) died of XDR-TB, or extensively drug resistant TB, in 2011. In January 2012, his younger brother, 19-year-old Sanjiv (name changed), too got infected. After two months, their mother Swati (name changed) also fell sick.
At Mukundnagar, 26-year-old Nita Parekh (name changed), wife of an autorickshaw driver and mother of a three-year-old boy and a seven year-old girl, has to be counselled to swallow 15 tablets daily after being detected with XDR-TB. Her husband Ravi (name changed) refuses to wear a protective mask. “We live in a one-room house and my children are very small. They will get scared if we wear masks all the time,” he says.
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At present, in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, 179 persons have been diagnosed to be suffering from multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB and nine others from XDR-TB, according to the data with the respective civic bodies. Mortality from the disease also remains high in the two municipal corporations. Since 2012, 70 people have died here due to MDR-TB and five due to XDR-TB.
Across the state, there are 7,723 MDR-TB and 540 XDR-TB patients, a good number of them from Mumbai.
Nationally, despite a comprehensive national TB control programme, around two million people contract TB every year, of which three lakh die. In 2013, India accounted for 25 per cent of the nine million TB cases across the world. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data, India is also home to one of the three million “missing” cases, which means TB patients who are either not diagnosed or are yet to be notified.
Dr Sanjeev Kamble, Joint Director of Health (TB) in Maharashtra, told The Indian Express that there were 1,35,465 TB patients in the state in 2014 and at least five per cent of them had since died.
In Pune Municipal Corporation area, 46 persons have died of MDR-TB died and three of XDR-TB since 2012. Another 101 are on treatment for MDR-TB while health authorities are tracing contact details of four patients detected with XDR-TB – a 40-year-old female sex worker, an 18-year-old Nepali girl, a 26-year-old housewife and a 53-year-old man from Hadapsar.
Out of 3,683 TB cases in Pune in 2013, 1,752 were new patients while in 2014, of 3718 cases, 1,712 were new patients, according to Dr N D Thakur, assistant health officer (TB and malaria) in the PMC.
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, there are 78 MDR-TB patients and five XDR-TB patients at present. A total of 24 persons have died here since 2012 due to MDR-TB and two others due to XDR-TB.
Dr B Hodgar, Pimpri-Chinchwad TB control officer, said that out of a total of 1,982 TB cases in 2013, as many as 681 were newly detected TB patients. In 2014, out of 1,896 cases, 634 were newly detected TB patients.
Survivors complain of the toll the heavy medication for the disease has taken on their lives. “I had to take seven pills on alternate days for three months, then another 14 pills with a daily injection for six months. I was hospitalised after failing this treatment for multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB and was soon shifted to another drug regimen of 14 pills daily for XDR-TB, which lasted for more than one-and-a-half year. I have lost three years of college life and now am looking for a job to support my family,” says Sanjiv from Akurdi.