A two-day workshop of the Zonal Task Force on Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme concluded on Friday with a call to provide universal access to quality diagnosis and treatment of all tuberculosis patients in the community.

By 2015, at least 90 per cent of all TB patients in the country, including HIV-associated and Drug Resistant TB, should be identified. Initial screening of all smear-positive patients for Drug Resistant TB should be made and HIV counselling and testing for all patients should be done, according to a summary of the proceedings of the workshop, held at SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Institute in Kattankulathur.

The workshop, according to the organisers, had elaborate discussions on TB control-related programmes at the national level. It also examined the trends in the four southern States of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka and the Union Territory of Puducherry. According to them, the emergence of new cases of TB was not more than 2 to 3 per cent in south India.

Delivering the valedictory address, Ramesh C. Deka, Director and Chief Executive Officer of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said tuberculosis, like other infectious diseases, was rampant among poor slum dwellers in cities.

“There are massive infrastructure projects like Metro Rail and construction of other huge projects in cities like Chennai and New Delhi. Thousands of workers from other States come here as migrant workers.

Cramped houses

They live in cramped houses amidst unhygienic surroundings,” Mr. Deka said, adding that due to insufficient income, they did not have access to wholesome and nutritious food, which he said was an important cause for TB.

He pointed out that not only in TB care but also in the overall healthcare system, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were far better than other States owing to higher literacy rates.

The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme had a significant impact on “TB epidemiology” in the country and the prevalence of all forms of TB had been brought down from 586 per 1 lakh people to 185 per 1 lakh in 2008. The ongoing impact assessment studies undertaken by the programme, the results of which are expected to be available by the end of 2010-11, would also help in demonstrating the impact of the programme, Mr. Deka said.

He added that the challenges and future plans were to address regional disparities and further enhance the programme performance by moving towards universal access of TB services to all.