Himachal Pradesh is losing over 500 lives annually due to tuberculosis (TB). Nearly 100 deaths were reported from Kangra alone in 2017. The information reveals that deaths due to tuberculosis in the state are more than swine flu, jaundice, dengue and scrub typhus combined.

Furthermore, out of over 550 drug-resistant (DR) tuberculosis (TB) cases in Himachal, 91 were reported from Kangra district. This was revealed during the Continuing Medical Education (CME) programme for private doctors, conducted at deputy commissioner office in Dharamshala on Sunday.

India topped the list of countries across the world with the highest number of people infected with TB, an estimated 27 lakh patients with and 4.1 lakh died of the disease in 2017.

As many as 16,451 patients were notified in state of Himachal in 2017 as per annual TB report, of which 736 were from the private sector.

Although curable, this disease continues be the leading cause of death from an infectious disease.

The sub-divisional magistrate of Dharamshala Dharmesh Kumar, in his keynote address, said that as part of urgency to act to end TB, Mukhymantri Kshay Rog Nivaran Yojna (MMKRNY) has been launched.

As reflection of the enhanced commitment of the government Revised National TB Control Programme activities has also been launched, he added.

Chief medical officer (CMO) of Kangra, Dr RS Rana, informed that 3,173 patients were notified in 2017 in Kangra district, out of which 246 were from the private sector.

As many as 45 private doctors from the region deliberated on the roadmap for TBfree Himachal.

“Involvement of private providers is critical to achieve reach to missing cases. Government of India has made compulsory to notify every TB case, whether diagnosed in government or private sector. Legal provisions of Section 269 and 270 of IPC have been added recently,” he said.

Apart from inadequate notification, many patients in private sector do not complete their treatment for recommended duration of six months.

Henceforth, such patients end up with multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB, he added.

WHO consultant Dr Ravinder Kumar shared that drug-resistant TB spread is undermining efforts to control the disease.

Multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant (XDR-TB) develop when the TB drug regimen is improperly administered, or when people with TB stop taking their medicines before the disease has been fully cured, he added.

Once a drug-resistant strain has developed, it can be transmitted directly to others, he maintained.

“Bedaquiline, the first anti-TB drug to be rolled out in the last 40 years is a ray of hope for ‘extremely drug-resistant’ cases of TB, for whom most existing drugs do not work. DR-TB site of medical college is providing this miracle drug-free to eligible patients,” said district health officer Dr Rajesh Guleri.

Under the ambitious Nikshay Poshan Yojna scheme, nutritional support enabler Rs 500 per month is being given to TB patients through Adhaar-linked direct bank transfer. As many as 1,100 patients have been given this benefit in the Himachal, out of which 333 patients are from Kangra district.