Pharmacists are to be trained to add their might to TB control

Concerned over the increasing incidence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the country, the government has developed a module for training community pharmacists in various aspects of tuberculosis under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP).

Importantly, it plans to link the TB database with Unique Identity (UID) in 2016-2017 for extending social welfare schemes to deserving patients. This will be made possible through Nikshay, a case-based web-based IT system initiated by the Union Health Ministry last year.

The Training Module for Community Pharmacists, prepared by the Central TB Division of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) in collaboration with the Indian Pharmaceutical Association, aims to train pharmacists in various aspects of TB and the role of pharmacists in its care and control.

To be implemented this year, the training module will help pharmacists in understanding their role in generating community awareness on TB identification and referral of TB suspects, recording and reporting and promoting rational use of anti TB drugs. It will introduce pharmacists to the global and Indian TB scenario, make them understand the basics of TB and drug resistant TB and teach them the principles and strategy of RNTCP and Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS).

India accounts for 26 per cent of the total global TB burden with 2.0-2.5 million new cases annually. Of all TB notified cases in India, 53 per cent are positive cases and 19 per cent are extra pulmonary ones. Only 2.1 per cent of TB cases are MDR-TB cases and there are only six per cent of HIV positive TB patients in India.

“The idea is to amalgamate TB management with the general health systems by involving Block Medical Officers in addition to Medical Officers in charge of TB Control,” Dr. Neeraj Kulshreshtha, additional Deputy Director General, (CHGS), told The Hindu. “It is a week long course which will also be disseminated through videos as it would not be possible to spare BDOs for a week,” he added.

According to the TB India 2013 report of the Ministry as many as 14,67,585 new cases were initiated on treatment in 2012 with 81,482 paediatric TB notified accounting for 7 per cent of all cases. Five per cent or 44,063 patients were found to be HIV positive. The case detection rate of new positive TB cases was 68 percent with a treatment rate of 88 per cent.

This article has been corrected for factual error

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