Times of India: Hyderabad: Saturday, February 25, 2017.
In what is likely to raise a serious cause of concern, the Telangana state recorded a whopping 45,160 new Tuberculosis (TB) cases in 2016, up from 41,343 cases in 2015. The data was obtained by a city-based NGO Helping Hand Foundation under Right to Information Act.
Though public sector hospitals continued to report most of the new TB cases, the increase in numbers is being attributed to a big jump in detection of new TB cases by private hospitals as compared to in 2015. While public sector hospitals detected 39,375 new cases in 2016 and 39,498 new cases in 2015, private hospitals reported 5,785 new cases in 2016 and 1,845 new cases in 2015.
"With TB being a notifiable disease because of its airborne nature in spreading the disease, the numbers of new TB cases being reported have increased in the private sector in 2016. But still, many private hospitals do not report such cases to the he alth authorities," said Mujtaba Hasan Askari, founder, NGO Helping Hand Foundation.
What's shocking is that when it comes to districts, the data shows Hyderabad topping the charts with highest number of 6,309 new Tuberculosis (TB) cases detected in state run hospitals in 2016. Not far behind is Ranga Reddy district with 3,972 new TB cases during the same period.
This is not all as the data obtained by NGO Helping Hand Foundation using Right to Information act (RTI) from Telangana State TB office shows another stark and shocking truth: Health authorities are clueless about 213 missing patients suffering from the deadly multi drug-re sistant (MDR) version of TB detected in last two years.
"In last two years, health authorities detected 1,722 new drug resistant TB cases including 905 cases in 2016 and 817 cases in 2015 respectively . But what is a cause of serious alarm is that no one knows the whereabouts of 213 drug resistant TB patients. They can surely infect others if they remain untreated," added Mujtaba Hasan Askari.
In fact, experts point out how routine TB cases turn into MDR TB through negligence of the patients. "TB germs take a long time and multiple drugs to die.That's why TB medicines have to be taken from six to nine months and sometimes even longer. For MDR TB, one needs to be treated for two to two and half years at least," said Dr Nalini N, consultant pulmonolgist at the Continental Hospital.
However, sources said that the Telangana state Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) office is yet to introduce the new block buster drug `Bedaquiline' (BDQ) for treating MDR TB patients. "Bedaquiline is a modern drug. It will soon be rolled out after TB officials receive training ext month," said Dr Ch Surya Prakash, state TB officer and joint director, RNTCP.