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Covid blow slows down notification of TB cases in India

25/11/2021 at 4:38 PM

Bhubaneswar, Nov 25: The central government’s ambitious goal of eradicating tuberculosis (TB) in India by 2025, five years ahead of the global target date of 2030, has encountered a roadblock because of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic with considerable slow down in the notification of TB cases in the country.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s 2021 global report, notification of TB cases in India went down by 41 percent between 2019 and 2020 which meant all hard-earned gains in TB testing and tracking had been lost, experts at a panel discussion held at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital here on Wednesday said.

Reporting information on diagnosis and treatment of TB cases to the nodal public health authority or officials designated by them was extremely important as every government, private, non-government organizations and individual practitioners providing healthcare were expected to notify such cases immediately, Prof. E. Venkat Rao, Professor in the department of Community Medicine in IMS and SUM Hospital, said.

The panel discussion on ‘Sensitisation of Private Sector TB Service Providers’, which was organised by Centre for Catalysing Change (C3) in collaboration with IMS and SUM Hospital, was also addressed by the Dean of IMS Prof. Gangadhar Sahu and the Medical Superintendent Prof. Pusparaj Samantasinhar.

Prof. Rao said poor compliance from the private healthcare sector led to an underestimation of the disease burden.

India, over the recent years, had been successfully inching its way towards bridging the gap between the WHO estimated number of TB cases (new and relapse) and the number of TB cases notified by the National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP) which replaced the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) in 2020.

Two TB related deaths occurred every three minutes in India (about 1400 deaths every day) as the country had the largest caseload of 2.64 million TB patients which accounted for 30 percent of such cases in the world, Dr. Santosh Swain of the department of General Medicine, IMS and SUM Hospital said.

Dr. Priyadarshini Behera, Associate Professor in the department of Pulmonary Medicine, provided the latest program updates on NTEP.

Prof. Rao said providing incentives to private practitioners and getting their feedback and extending help in diagnostic and drug services to the private sector and financial support to all patients has been suggested as the solution to reverse the trend of under-reporting of cases by NTEP. Regulatory approach to legal action for not notifying a patient could also be thought of, he said.

The program was also addressed by Ashok Nayak, State Head and Bibhuti Bhushan Pradhan, Program Officer of C3.

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