Himachal gears up to become TB-free state

June 30, 2017 10:10 AM

Punjab News Express/Y.S.Rana
CHANDIGARH : From open defecation free (ODF) state, Himachal Pradesh seems to be all set to hold TB by its horn which is major health problem. TB despite being curable still remains an epidemic. While the central government has a target to eliminate TB by 2025, the state government of Himachal Pradesh has set the target to achieve the distinction of first TB-free State in the country by 2023.
Hence, it has all the trappings of a paradox but not the one that defies an answer. Even as the State known for its salubrious and blaming environment conducive to all kinds of cure, is marshalling every resource at its command to take head-on the age-old enemy of tuberculosis (TB), fresh cases keep cropping up at a more-or-less matching pace, making even the noticeably commendable efforts made by the state government look pale. Ironically, the deduction rate and cure rate of Himachal Pradesh is above the desired national level.
Spring up of fresh TB cases seem to be engaged in a race of sorts. And this too in a state where, elders recall, soldiers suffering from TB during the British Raj were sent, especially to Dharampur (TB Sanatorium) in district Solan for treatment. The state has equipped itself with the latest tools provided by various national health programmes, it has taken well-heeled measures to beef up its healthcare system to address the gamut of TB.
Dr R.K. Baria, Deputy Director, TB Control Programme, Shimla, said that the department sought the involvement of corporate houses for the success of the programme. Recently, a meeting was held. The meeting was attended by 13 prominent corporate houses and in principle they agreed to fund the programme, he added.
He further stated that the programme was implemented in the State in phase manner. Hamirpur was the first district to implement RNTCP in 1995 followed by Kangra, Dharamsala and Mandi in 1998. By 2002, the entire state was brought under the ambit of this programme. Official data confirms that the State has been adjudged among the top best performing states/UTs in the country with 87 per cent cure rate of new smear positive (NSP) patients and has 89 per cent success rate. The state has been achieving this distinction since 2005.
Dr Baria stated that to achieve TB-free status by 2023, the state has announced ‘Mukhyamantri Kshay Rog Nivaran Yojna’ under the programme 12 district Centres, 72 units, 208 microscopic centres for TB were set up and four more such Centres were in the pipeline. He further revealed that a sum of Rs 15.79 crore have been proposed for this fiscal to fight TB. The state has received Rs 11.53 crore for the purpose in 2016-17 and Rs 5.84 crore were released by the Central government for this fiscal.
The state government has also launched door-to-door screening for TB in high risk areas of Solan, Kullu and Mandi from January 1, 2017. Eight more districts were being brought under door-to-door programme in the second phase. It would be started from July 17 to July 31.
Over 70 lakh population of the State was covered under RNTCP in 2015 and 7957 smear positive patients diagnosed. Total number of patient registered for treatment in the year was 14,333. “Technically speaking this was not the increase in number of TB cases but increase in case detection among the existing cases in the community,” said Dr R.K. Baria. The health department has also launched a pilot project to involve IMA doctors in the programme under which over 60 IMA doctors have been trained so far.
The death rate of TB patients which was 26 per cent about six years ago has now been reduced to four per cent lower than the national average of six per cent. In the recent past, efforts have been intensified to minimize initial defaulters and emphasis is being given to counsel the patients so that they are motivated for early initiation of treatment.
Under concept of Universal access efforts are being put on to involve all the stake holders to aware and sensitize the people regarding the programme and availability of various treatment. Even members of Parliament and MLAs were sensitized about the project. TB strategy has been developed with some components for development of new diagnostic tools for early case detection that made TB/MDR TB much faster. So all the efforts are towards these steps to ensure the transformation of these to eliminate TB from the State by 2023 and achieve another distinction of being the first TB-free state in the country.

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