Six months after a special plan to combat tuberculosis was introduced in the city, there is an estimate of just how widespread the deadly drug-resistant variety of the disease is in the community. Of 6,561 people screened for the disease across the city, 1,407 tested positive, said BMC officials on Tuesday.
"The numbers are higher this year because of better diagnostic and treatment facilities introduced in the city," said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar. In 2011, only 354 people were tested, of whom 181 emerged positive. Ever since Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, made public in January 2012 its experience with 12 patients with extremely extensively drug-resistant TB, the spotlight has been on Mumbai's TB epidemic. The Centre has given funds and special status to help check the spread of the disease.
A central team, along with experts from Centers of Disease Control (US) and UNAIDS, will begin a visit to the city on Wednesday to look at the progress made.
The BMC, which has been partnering the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), has in the interim got a TB control officer with 24 deputies in each ward. "We have increased treatment units in the city from 27 to 59. The Sewree TB Hospital will get extra beds and an improved laboratory," said a city health official.
The BMC now plans to hold door-to-door surveillances every quarter. The next survey will begin on September 1. "If we cannot cover every ward, we will at least cover high-risk areas," said another official. The BMC also plans to enlist the help of counsellors in the TB control programme to ensure that people do not drop out of treatment; dropout has been traced as one of the reasons for the emergence of the drug-resistant strain.
Mhaiskar said, "We have found drug-resistant patients who were previously not part of the healthcare system. This is because we increased diagnosis facilities." The city got a high-tech GeneXpert, which detects drug-resistant strains in two hours. The capacity of J J Hospital's laboratory to test has increased from 15 to 60 a day. Another factor that helped the city is door-to-door surveillance for TB patients in all 24 wards. "We found 458 new patients of tuberculosis, of whom 452 have already been put under treatment," said Mhaiskar.
* Author: TNN
* News story courtesy TNN
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