Three years after it issued an order making TB a notifiable disease, and despite a much-hyped webportal Nikshay to facilitate TB notification, government of India is looking to take action against private sector players for not reporting TB cases.
Though 50 per cent of TB patients go to private practitioners, private sector — that includes both laboratories and doctors — has reported only about 2 lakh cases so far. In 2014, India had an estimated 2.2 million (22 lakh) new TB cases. Much as the health ministry is reluctant to incorporate penal provisions against private practitioners for not reporting TB cases, senior officials in the ministry of health and family welfare, speaking at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health, did not rule out action under IPC or other state acts like the Bombay Nursing Act to ensure compliance.
“It is true that 98 per cent of cases that come to the government sector are duly notified but so far only about 2 lakh cases from the private sector have been notified. This is a very small number given that 50 per cent of our TB patients go to the private sector for treatment…. We do not really want to invoke penalties… but there is always the option of action under IPC or under other acts like the Bombay Nursing Act,” said Dr Sunil Khaparde, Deputy Director General, Central TB Division of the Ministry of Health, during a panel discussion on use of information technology in TB treatment. The event was organised by the South African Ministry of Science and Technology and the Global Coalition Against TB.
The Indian health ministry had some time back launched Nikshay, a web portal that uses SMS to report and track progress of TB patients. However, a poster presented at the world conference showed that in Mysore City 82 per cent private practitioners did not even know about Nikshay.
Speaking at a panel discussion on the use of IT to reach and ensure TB treatment, Arvind Gupta, co-founder of Digital India Foundation and chief of BJP’s Information and Technology Group, said that health is the next focus area of the Digital India platform.