Whiff of fresh air

With reports of drug resistant strains of tuberculosis becoming a serious threat in Mumbai,health organisations across the nation are taking notice of the problem.

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published:January 25, 2012 12:50 am

Basic precautions and judicious use of medication can help prevent drug resistant strains of tuberculosis from spreading

With reports of drug resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB) becoming a serious threat in Mumbai,health organisations across the nation are taking notice of the problem. Tuberculosis,that comes along with the added burden of having a social stigma attached to it,can also escalate into a more serious illness with no available cure if proper precautions are not taken at the initial stages itself.

“Doctors should take notice of the need to generate awareness about the illness and necessary precautions to combat it,” says Dr Sharad Agharkhedkar,professor and HOD Department of Paediatrics,DY Patil College. Even the Partnership for TB Care and Control in India,recently released a statement in which they have urged stakeholders around the country working for TB Control to scale up their necessary services. It also mentioned that TB needs to be actively identified through approved,early,accurate and high quality diagnosis. Proper completion of treatment needs to be ensured for all TB patients.

“Even basic precautions like not spitting in the open helps because the TB strains are present in the air for 48 hours. So anyone breathing the air around is susceptible to it,” says Dr Agharkhedkar. He also says that another major reason why the drug resistant strains are developing in India is because patients stop the treatment mid-way,once they start feeling better. Other reasons like poor programme reach,inaccurate diagnosis methodologies,and indiscriminate drug prescription also have combined to see the problem escalate in the recent times.

“Currently,every year around two to three per cent of the population in the country are diagnosed with TB. Proper diagnosis and treatment can prevent the illness from recurring for at least 20 years,” he says. Most of the drugs are used for micro-bacterial tuberculosis. “We do not have a second line of drugs to counter the resistant strain and hence we need to use the available drugs very judiciously,” he adds.

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