More private practitioners being roped in for universal access

After achieving global benchmarks in case-detection and treatment success rate for the last three years, the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) is being expanded by roping in more private practitioners for providing universal access to quality care.

Disclosing this at a press conference here on Tuesday, K.S. Sachdeva, Deputy Program Manager, Central TB Division, said the programme achieved a case-detection rate of over 73 per cent and a treatment success rate of over 87 per cent in 2010 against the global benchmark of 70 and 85 per cent respectively.

Since the launch of RNTCP in 1997, more than 12.6 million patients have been treated and 2.2 million deaths averted.

He said the programme was well on track to achieve TB-related Millennium Development Goals. It was expected to achieve a case detection rate of 90 per cent by 2015, even as the twin challenges posed by multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and TB-HIV co-infection were also being addressed. The annual incidence of TB was 9.4 million cases world over, while India accounted for two million.

With India accounting for one-fifth of all global TB cases, Dr. Sachdeva said the WHO-recommended treatment for TB called DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course) was now being offered to more than 1.25 lakh patients each month. He said most of the patients not covered by the programme were those treated by private practitioners.

Dr. Sachdeva said quality-assured diagnostic facilities were available in more than 12,800 laboratories across the country. The main cause for emergence of MDR-TB was irrational treatment, predominantly in the private sector. RNTCP was seeking to promote rational use of anti-TB drugs by private practitioners.

With about 19 labs offering diagnostic facilities for MDR-TB, he said another 24 would be set up by 2013. All of them would offer newer molecular-based Line Probe Assay, which can diagnose MDR-TB in 48 hours as compared to 6-12 weeks taken by conventional tests.

P.V. Ramesh, Principal Secretary Health, Andhra Pradesh, announced that orders would be issued shortly stipulating private doctors to adhere to standard treatment regimes for malaria and TB. A screening programme would also be undertaken in rural areas for early detection of TB cases.

Dr. M.S. Srinivas Rao, State TB Officer; Dr. Subhakar, Chairman of State Task Force Committee on RNTCP; and Dr. S.V. Prasad, Superintendent, Chest and Infectious Diseases Hospital were present.