New Delhi: With cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis on the rise, the government has finally agreed to make this a notifiable disease.
That means, every doctor will have to register each case.
At least a thousand Indians die of tuberculosis every day. The biggest threat at this point is what experts call totally drug resistant TB, which is incurable, and highly contagious. Fifteen cases have been confirmed in Mumbai alone. But this could just be the tip of the iceberg. And now, ceding to pressure, the Health Ministry has passed a proposal to make TB a notifiable disease.
Essentially that would mean that when this proposal comes into effect, by law, each private doctor treating the disease would have to report every case of TB to the government and inform it of the treatment given.
"It is essential to have compete information of all TB cases. Therefore, the healthcare providers shall notify every TB case to local authorities, that is, district health officers or CMOs of the district and Municipal health officers of a municipal corporation, every month in a given format," said Ashok Kumar, DG, TB Division, Union Health Ministry.
With the private sector providing 80 per cent of India's healthcare, the success of this programme would largely hinge on its participation. Activists have pointed to the huge impact Making HIV a notifiable disease.
But with 4 lakh TB cases diagnosed annually, doctors are apprehensive about the logistics.
Dr Hemant Thacker, infectious disease's specialist, says, "In a country where you can't get your election card on time, voter ID on time, I don't think we have the time and space and infrastructure to make a disease notifiable and all data."
It would still be a huge step forward for India's TB management program. A disease that should have been eradicated but has now morphed, posing a deadlier threat. The WHO estimates more than 60,000 people develop serious Multi Drug resistance in the country every year. The 8 month long treatment can cost upto Rs 4 lakh.