BMC unveils blueprint to tackle TB cases in city

Days after Mayor Sunil Prabhu directed the BMC health department to chalk out a comprehensive strategy to tackle tuberculosis cases in the city, the civic body has come up with an action plan. Additional Municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar, along with members from the World Health Organisation (WHO), National Tuberculosis Institute (NTI), Bangalore, Central TB Division (CTD), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other agencies comprising NGOs and private practitioners declared an 'upscaling' of the existing TB action programme of the BMC.

"The BMC started its anti-TB campaign last year after the news of the 'totally' drug resistant strain of the virus was observed. The new blueprint is a more comprehensive and ambitious plan wherein we aim to have universal access to quality TB care in Mumbai. The civic body has invited over 4,000 qualified medical practitioners to be part of its anti-TB programme," said Mhaiskar.

The BMC is looking to get five more GeneXperts in the city, which will identify TB within a couple of hours. The state-run J J Hospital is also expected to have a drug susceptibility test (DST) soon after a team from the hospital completes its training at the NTI.

The TB scare in Mumbai became a major issue last year when 12 persons were found to be suffering from a strain of the disease wherein the patient is resistant to both first and second lines of treatment. Six patients subsequently succumbed while six others are being treated at the Sewri TB hospital. Soon after, the Centre declared TB as a notifiable disease, which means the even private clinics and hospitals are liable to report all TB cases to government authorities. However, non-compliance from the private sector is a grey area that medical experts in the public sector have been observing.

"The Government of India is devising ways to eliminate non-compliance from private practitioners. So far the communication about notification of TB cases from private sector to the government is only paper-based. There are ways, which are being considered to streamline this. We need to adapt the information technology to overcome this," said Dr Srinivas Nair, national TB officer for India from WHO.

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