Following a month-long drive, the Maharashtra government has detected at least 9,206 new tuberculosis (TB) cases in the state. The maximum cases were detected in Thane (988), Pune (647) and Ahmednagar (539).
The state government began door-to-door screening to detect leprosy and TB cases on December 1. A target to screen 8.66 crore population, including 6.82 crore in rural areas and 1.84 in urban municipal corporations, was set.
A team of two health workers, including ASHA or anganwadi staff, visited 20 households in rural and 25 in urban areas each day. The health workers collected two sputum samples from the suspected cases, while the confirmed cases were asked to undergo chest X-ray.
In Mumbai, 49.88 lakh people in slums and high-risk areas were screened. Civic officials found 9,619 suspected cases with persistent cough and weight loss. Of them, 499 came positive for TB after test. Dr Pranita Tipre, in-charge of TB in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said: “From diagnosing 4,500-5,000 new TB cases every month, Mumbai’s TB notification fell very low from March to June. People were afraid to come forward and get tested in a clinic due to the pandemic.” She added that before March, active door-to-door screening yielded very few numbers, but this time, detection of 499 cases was very high. “This shows that finding active cases will help detect the hidden ones as people are still scared to get tested. In the past few months, we diagnosed 2,500-3,000 cases. We are improving but there is scope to do more.”
BMC officials said they feared several TB patients could be deprived of medication owing to lockdown. In the lockdown months, civic officials visited local communities to disburse one to two months of medicines to several patients.
Tuberculosis and leprosy are both highly infectious diseases that can fast manifest among those with poor immunity. The TB notification had dropped significantly during the pandemic picking up only slightly from September after state machinery reactivated all health programmes. Between March to July, 51,884 TB cases were detected, a dip of 44 per cent from 2019 when 93,253 cases were diagnosed in the same period.
In the month-long drive in December, Thane (988) recorded the maximum TB cases, followed by Pune (647), Ahmednagar (539), Mumbai (499) and Jalgaon (461).
Fourteen districts recorded between 200-400 cases during the screening drive. Districts like Washim, Parbhani and Sindhudurg recorded less than 100 TB cases.
Dr Ramji Adkekar said the detection of new cases and their treatment will help arrest further transmission in community. All these cases have been put on treatment, he said. The state is yet to check which of the newly diagnosed patients have drug-resistant tuberculosis.
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