LOOKING AT the increasing number of tuberculosis cases, now tests that will be able to detect the presence of the bacteria in just two hours will be introduced at Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. Presently, the cartridge-based nucelic acid amplification test (CBNAAT) – also called GeneXpert— is installed at BJ Medical College and Aundh General Hospital.
The numbers of TB patients are increasing and ahead of World TB Day (March 24), state principal secretary (health) Sujata Saunik said that in addition to 50 such GeneXpert tests another 20 will be introduced in the state. In addition to the existing GeneXpert at Sassoon general hospital, one more CBNAAT will also be installed at B J Medical College and Sassoon general hospital as the load of TB patients is huge at the government hospital.
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Dr Sanjeev Kamble, State Tuberculosis officer, said that conventional methods for testing the disease takes anywhere between a week and one-and-a-half months. Also CBNAAT that works by testing the sputum of people suspected of TB will help in the detection of drug-resistant tuberculosis, he told The Indian Express.
Waiting keenly for daily drug regimen.
An estimated 2.2 million people suffer from TB in India with over 70,000 MDR TB patients. Maharashtra had 1.3 lakh drug resistant patients out of which 60 per cent were from Mumbai, Saunik told The Indian Express. The high incidence is reflected in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad too. Dr N D Thakur, Pune city tuberculosis control officer and Dr B Hodgar, Pimpri Chinchwad TB control officer admitted that there are increasing cases of multi drug resistant TB. Last year, there were total 3,778 TB patients in Pune while 1,898 in Pimpri Chinchwad. A total of 294 MDR TB patients in Pune are on treatment while Pimpri Chinchwad has 76 such patients. Presently, drugs for treating TB are given thrice a week for six months. The government is proposing a daily drug regimen where a fixed drug combination will be given daily to each TB patient. “We hope this regimen will overcome the limitiations of intermittent therapy,” the officials said.
Bedaquiline— promising new TB drug rolled out
Sunil Khaparde, Deputy Director General, Central TB division, Union Health Ministry said that initially 600 doses of Bedaquiline will be procured under the Conditional Access programme from Johnson and Johnson and then another 2,000 doses from USAID. The drugs will be given under strict supervision at six government hospitals across the country, including KEM hospital in Mumbai.
Bedaquiline is a promising new TB drug, but it must be carefully introduced and monitored, Dr Madhukar Pai, Director of McGill Global Health Programme, Canada, said.”I have already seen media reports from India which call bedaquiline a ‘miracle drug’. This worries me — terms like ‘miracle drug’ should not be used lightly as it can raise expectations and encourage abuse,” Pai said.
Steps to make Maharashtra ‘spit-free’
Multiple challenges to TB control persists. A law against spitting in public places is already in existence and in Mumbai, the BMC acts against people who spit in public. However, there is a need to make it more effective, Sujata Saunik, state principal health secretary said pointing to the rise in the number of cases of tuberculosis.