For the first time, a fixed dose combination of drugs will be given daily to tuberculosis (TB) patients across five states, including Maharashtra, from September. Children who find it difficult to swallow will also be given dispersible tablets to treat TB.
The state health authorities are now waiting to start the daily drug regimen and Maharashtra, along with Bihar, Kerala, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, will roll out the project in the first phase. Dr Sanjeev Kamble, state joint director of health (TB and Leprosy), said that the training of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers was already under way. As against seven to eight tablets taken every alternate day by the TB patient, there will be a daily fixed dose of three-four tablets for the first six months. This is a pilot project undertaken by Foundation for Innovation New Diagnostics (FIND), Central TB division , Government of India.
TB remains a global epidemic. Over two billion people harbour the latent infection and over 9 million suffer from it, out of which five lakh are multi drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients. India accounts for 23 per cent of global TB cases and deaths. An estimated 2.2 million people suffer from TB in India, out of which over 70,000 suffer from MDR-TB.
This daily drug regimen hopes to tackle TB and improve treatment rates, Kamble said.
Paediatric TB tests
A machine will be dedicated for detecting paediatric TB cases at the Intermediate Reference Laboratory (IRL) on tuberculosis (TB) at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Nagpur. In Maharashtra, there are 1.35 lakh people who suffer from TB and at least 7 per cent are paediatric TB cases. Experts said that various studies have shown that out of adult TB cases, at least a minimum of 12 per cent should be detected as paediatric TB. “This means that an estimated four-five per cent of the children with TB are being missed,” said Dr Uday Bodhankar, former national president of Indian Academy of Paediatrics. TB in children is underdiagnosed and hence cannot be easily picked up, Dr Nadeem Khan, Director of IRL that is part of the State TB Control and Demonstration Centre (STCDC) in Nagpur told The Indian Express.
Free TB tests
With 72 cartridge-based nucelic acid amplification test (CBNAAT), also called GeneXpert machines, set up across the state to detect TB in two hours, state health officials have urged private practitioners to send samples to the government facility. The TB detection tests have been installed phase-wise since 2013. A total of 5,500 multidrug resistant TB cases and another 800 Extremely Drug Resistant TB (XDR) patients are treated in Maharashtra annually.