40% TB patients in India untreated: DTO

ITANAGAR, 27 May: Itanagar Capital Region (ICR) District Tuberculosis Officer (DTO) Dr PN Thongchi informed that, “despite the best effort of the health system,” about 40 percent of people in India who develop tuberculosis (TB) are still either not diagnosed or not reported, “or even if reported, they fail to follow up (both drug sensitive and drug resistant), mainly due to social stigma and discrimination, or due to unavailability of services in inaccessible or inconvenient places.

Speaking during a review meeting of the District TB Forum Committee here, Dr Thongchi said that the forum is a “health community whose objective is to engage with policymakers and implementers to ensure justice, rights and dignity of TB patients for effective service delivery, and to supplement and complement government initiatives to enforce TB patient- friendly law, policy and programmes.”

The forum also aims at reducing stigma and discrimination and ensuring social security for TB patients, survivors and their families, and at “improving awareness on various government schemes, provisions and facilities available for TB patients,” he said.

He informed that, “under the Nikshay Poshan Yojana, financial incentive of Rs 500 per month is granted for each notified TB patient, along with other financial incentives and support.”

Stressing on the additional role of the ASHAs and anganwadi workers (AWW) in identifying suspected TB cases, he informed that “provision of incentives for ASHAs and AWWs in TB-related support is also available.”

DMO Dr Komling informed that “the TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyan has been launched under the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination on a mission mode to end the epidemic by 2025.

“It aims to detect all TB patients, with an emphasis on reaching undiagnosed TB cases in high-risk populations,” he said.

Dr Komling highlighted the role of other stakeholders like the AWWs and the ASHAs, “who can work at the grassroots level towards improving awareness and removing the stigma attached with TB.”

Itanagar MO (TC TU) Dr Kabak Tamar suggested “undertaking to be taken from the patients undergoing the treatment to complete the course,” and highlighted a few requirements of the Itafort dispensary for TB patients, like X-ray machine, etc.

ZPC Chukhu Bablu called for maintaining a database of the TB cases in the districts.

ICR DC Talo Potom urged all to “work together towards achieving the goal of complete elimination of TB.”

Swami Vishveshananda of the RKMH and OWA chairperson Ratan Anya also spoke.

Among others, Naharlagun DRTB nodal officer Dr Tayeng Kumar, SDO Dr Gijum Tali, and Papum Pare DSO Dr RR Ronya attended the meeting. (DIPRO)