With cases of MDR and XDR tuberculosis being reported from various parts of the country,the Union Health Ministry has decided to make TB a notifiable disease. This means any institution,government or private,which sees a new tuberculosis patient,will have to mandatorily inform designated health authorities about the case and its treatment.
The proposal was approved by Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last week and sources say the order will be issued any day now.
According to the proposal,the designated authority that would have to be informed about new TB cases are the district health officer/CMO of a district and the municipal health officer in a municipality. Notification,the ministry hopes would ensure careful monitoring of the course of the disease,choke the transmission rate,and also reduce cases of drug resistance.
The decision is significant because TB is widely thought to be endemic in the country and that is the reason why it was not made notifiable despite being ranked as one the most dreaded killers in the country. According to the statistics available with the National TB Control Programme,the disease kills two persons every three minutes in the country and the daily toll adds up to about 1,000.
The decision has been taken for better tracking of TB cases. There have been numerous instances where doctors flout DOTS norms with impunity leading to resistance. Though it is unusual to notify diseases that are considered endemic,unless we take this step now,we might end up with a situation where drug resistant TB has become endemic, said Director General Health Services Dr Jagdish Prasad.