All the multi drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) patients coming for treatment at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) will be diagnosed immediately for extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) from July 1.

At present, the screening for XDR-TB was done only after six months of treatment for MDR-TB, official sources told The Hindu here on Sunday. This move will benefit TB patients from Tirupur, Coimbatore, Erode, Karur and the Nilgiris districts.

The results of XDR-TB testing, which was done at Intermediate Reference Laboratory (IRL) at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, will be known only after three months. While there was an IRL at Chennai, the official added that it was yet to get the necessary accreditation to test for XDR-TB. This initiative is part of a project executed by the Central Government’s TB Division with technical support from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The MDR-TB is resistant to the first-line drugs isoniazid and rifampicin. The XDR-TB is resistant to the drugs as well as the powerful antibiotic, fluoroquinolone, and a second-line injectable antibiotic.

A senior official in TB Directorate said that XDR-TB had a mortality rate of 25 per cent even if the treatment was administered at early stages and as high as even 50 to 70 per cent for TB patients who were HIV positive. This new initiative will cut down the diagnosis time from the earlier nine months to three months, thereby improving the chances of survival.

Private practitioners

The official has urged the private practitioners treating TB patients to make use of this facility free of charge. The objective was to increase coverage and reduce mortality.

The CMCH was equipped with a cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification testing (CBNAAT), used for diagnosing MDR TB. This Rs. 40 lakh-equipment was installed under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) of the Union Government, with support from the WHO.

More In: Coimbatore