‘Dropout rate is high as many stop treatment mid-way’

As many as 4,828 patients who were on treatment for tuberculosis died in the State in 2012, according to statistics put out by the Department of Health and Family Welfare on World Tuberculosis Day observed in Bangalore on Sunday.

Speaking at a function organised to spread awareness on Tuberculosis, M. Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, said that there was a need to effectively track down TB patients. He said that patient dropout rate was very high as a large number of them do not undergo treatment after symptoms disappear.

He also pointed out that TB was a “poor man’s disease”, and it is a result of low nutritional level and unhygienic living habits. “There is a need to make the people aware of the disease. The Village Health and Sanitation Committee and ASHA workers can all play a crucial role in tracking patients,” he added.

Stating that 50 per cent to 60 per cent of people living with HIV are prone to Tuberculosis, Mr. Madan Gopal pointed out that there was a need to strengthen cross referrals so that TB could be effectively handled.

Adding to that Shashidhar Buggi, Director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, said that there was a need to look at TB as a “medico-social phenomenon” rather than as a health problem.

Under Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP), which is a World Bank-assisted and Centrally-sponsored programme aimed at providing universal access to quality TB diagnosis and treatment for all TB patients, 67,572 patients were put on treatment for TB in the State. M.D. Suryakant, State Joint Director for Tuberculosis Control Programme, said that a new website and helpline for TB would be launched shortly.