Coimbatore would be the fourth centre in the state to get the equipment ; Free tests for all TB patients and people with HIV

Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) will soon get an advanced equipment to detect cases of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB) under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) of the Union Government.

Once operational, it will produce the test results in a couple of hours, compared to the six months taken under the present system. Tuberculosis patients from the Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Salem, Namakkal and Karur districts would benefit from this equipment. CMCH Dean R. Vimala told The Hindu here on Thursday that space had been allotted on the hospital premises for installation purpose.

According to Health Department sources, the equipment, worth around Rs. 40 lakh, was purchased with the support from World Health Organisation (WHO). The equipment was likely to be commissioned in a couple of weeks.

At present, a sputum sample from a TB patient was put through a culture process that took three months. After adequate growth of bacteria was achieved, the sample was sent to the Intermediate Reference Laboratories (IRL) at Chetpet, Chennai, set up under RNTCP for testing. The new equipment eliminated the need for the culture process as the cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification testing looked directly for drug-resistant gene in the nuclei of a cell, sources said.

Testing would be done free of cost for all TB patients and people living with HIV. Patients undergoing treatment with private practitioners could also avail the services.

According to sources, Coimbatore became the fourth centre in Tamil Nadu to have this equipment. It is available at IRL in Chennai, Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai, and Christian Medical College in Vellore. It was a significant acquisition for Coimbatore district that had witnessed 1,255 new cases of TB in the last six months.

Implemented by the Central TB Division of Directorate General of Health Services, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the RNTCP was the second largest programme of its kind in the world and was devised with assistance from WHO, they added.

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