An intensified house-to-house search has picked up as many as 1,800 new Tuberculosis (TB) cases across 50 high-risk districts in 18 states between January 15 to 31. From among 34 lakh people screened in the fortnight-long programme, at least 26,000 were identified with TB symptoms, with 1,800 confirmed cases so far. The sputum taken from others is currently being analysed. Nearly one million TB cases remain “missing” every year in the country for lack of diagnosis or treatment. “To end TB, we need to treat the missing cases and now trained health workers are doing a house-to-house search. So far, they have picked up 1,800 new patients in just a fortnight,” Dr Sunil Khaparde, Deputy Director General of Central TB Division said.
The health officials mainly targeted urban slums, migrant population and visited vulnerable populations like cotton mill workers and refugee camps. “Initially we have taken up 50 high-risk districts in 18 states — Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra (Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri, Bhiwandi and Thane), Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala and cities like Delhi and Chennai, among others. The second and third phase will be conducted in July and December where another 100 districts will be taken up for the house-to-house search,” Khaparde said.
TB experts from major institutes in the country had analysed the problem of missing TB patients in the country and had in their study in PLOS Medicine recently pointed out that India had the world’s largest TB epidemic with 23 per cent of global burden of active TB patients annually and 27 per cent of the world’s ‘missing’ patients — representing about one million patients who have not been notified under the government’s revised national TB control programme. While Reach, Treat and Cure everyone is an ambitious target to end TB globally by 2035, India has also set a target of eliminating TB by 2025 . The Central TB Division has now chalked out its action plan 2017-22 and the focus is to actively find new TB cases and treat them.
Around 4.8 lakh people died of the disease last year in the country, while an estimated 1.30 lakh people had multi-drug resistant TB. Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research, said that they have also urged the Central TB Division to look into the nutritional aspect of TB patients and their families.