There has been an increase in cases of tuberculosis patients showing resistance to multi-drug therapy (MDT) in the region, with 54 patients being identified in Gulbarga, Bidar, Yadgir and Bijapur.

A majority of these patients are from Gulbarga district. They have been admitted at a special treatment facility here for a more effective second-line medical treatment, which is not only expensive but also of a prolonged duration.

District Health and Family Welfare Officer Shivaraj Sajjanshetty told The Hindu here on Wednesday that the government provided the expensive drugs used in the second-line treatment free but the patients would have to endure the prolonged treatment ranging from 18 to 24 months.

One of the major reasons for patients developing resistance to MDT is irregular consumption of medicines provided to them and co-infection of tuberculosis with HIV.

Of the 54 patients identified, two are HIV positive.

To a question, Dr. Sajjanshetty said that the increase in tuberculosis cases in the district does not mean that the disease has staged a comeback but was only indicative of the effectiveness of tuberculosis detection under the revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme.

Under an earlier programme, the target was 70 per cent detection and of them, 85 per cent were taken up for cure. In the changed revised programme, the government has made universal detection and treatment mandatory.

He said that the first-line MDT was still effective in curing tuberculosis. To increase the effectiveness of MDT and to ensure regular use of medicines by patients, the Health Department has adopted a new strategy called “Directly Observed Treatment Schedule (DOTS)”. Under this programme, medicines are supplied to a DOTS provider and the patient is asked to visit the DOTS provider to avail himself of medicine as per schedule. The DOTS provider, who gets financial assistance of Rs. 250 per patient for the entire treatment schedule, has been asked to ensure that the patient takes the medicine in front of him.

Dr. Sajjanshetty said ASHA workers, private MBBS and RMP doctors, teachers in villages and towns have been identified as DOTS provider.

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