Following the Union Health Ministrys decision to make tuberculosis a notifiable disease,all doctors in the city treating TB patients will now have to report details of the patients to local government authorities. The move is specially pertinent in case of private practitioners who were earlier not required to keep patients records. As per Union Health Ministry reports,60-70 per cent TB patients first go to private doctors for treatment.
The move is not an attempt to merge with the private sector,but to improve existing treatment conditions. The private sector needs to support our fight against TB. Public health is the responsibility of all doctors, said central TB division official. The official also said that making TB a notifiable disease will chalk out special health schemes for TB patients in future,especially those from lower socio-economic strata.
On May 7,the Union Health Ministry issued notices stating that all healthcare providers will have to notify details of TB cases to the local health authorities on a monthly basis. Local health authorities include the chief medical officer,district health officer and the municipal health officer of the corporation.The move has been perceived by most doctors as a step in the right direction. The decision to make TB notifiable is a giant leap. WHO figures of TB cases in India are grossly underestimated. We will now finally get an accurate idea of TB cases in the country, said Dr Zarir Udwadia,Hinduja Hospital.
Some practitioners,however,believe that the government needs to do much more than just collect data about the patients. We do not have the wherewithal to collect and store records of thousands of patients who are being treated for TB. If TB has to be tackled,the government needs to roll out a proper package to treat the patients, said Dr Hemant Thacker,consultant physician,Breach Candy and Jaslok hospitals.