The Central Tuberculosis (TB) Division of the Directorate General of Health Services is in the process of accrediting the Intermediate Reference Laboratory (IRL) for TB at the Government Hospital for Chest Diseases, Gorimedu.

At a Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) Task Force (South) workshop for medical colleges on Thursday, inaugurated by Home Minister E. Valsaraj, senior officials of the Health Department said that the IRL was yet to receive accreditation despite being well-equipped.

“The Central TB Division has started the process of accreditation ,” said Secretary (Health) T.M. Balakrishnan.

Director of Health Dilip Kumar Baliga said the lab has all facilities and capabilities to carry out drug susceptibility testing and drug resistance testing. It was maintaining high quality standards. Several students including those studying biochemistry and biotechnology are carrying out thesis work at the laboratory.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Valsaraj, who also holds the Health portfolio, said Puducherry has been sustaining a cure rate of 85 per cent among new sputum positive patients and maintaining case detection of against 70 per cent of the estimated sputum positive cases in the community.

“Among the total population of 10.74 lakh, the total number of cases detected is 1,333. The success rate of smear positive re-treatment is also high,” he said.

The Union Territory has registered an increase in cure rate from 69 per cent in 2004 to 86 per cent in 2008. The defaulter rate had come down from 18 per cent in 2004 to four per cent early in 2007, Mr. Valsaraj said.

“The total death rate in Puducherry is less as per the national average. There were 111 deaths in 2006 and 91 in 2008,” Mr. Valsaraj said.

Mr. Balakrishnan said the management of HIV-TB and Multi Drug Resistant TB are new challenges.

The workshop was organised by the Puducherry RNTCP Task Force and State TB Cell. Chairman of RNTCP Zonal Task Force (South) K. Venu, Director of LRS Institute, Delhi, D. Behera, State TB Officer S. Govindarajan, Director-Principal of Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) James J. Gnanadoss, Head, Department of Community Medicine PIMS Zile Singh and Organising Secretary Anil Jacob Purty were present.