Having achieved global objectives of a new 70 per cent in case-detection and a treatment success rate of 85 per cent for the last three consecutive years, the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) is being further revised with the objective of Universal Access to Quality TB care for all patients.

Under the Universal Access, all TB patients in the community, including vulnerable and marginalised persons, will have access to early, quality diagnosis and treatment services. The intermediate target is to detect 90 per cent of all TB cases and successfully treat 90 per cent of them by 2015.

The new initiative of Universal Access will also be marked by the launch of a new DOTS logo that will be in use from World TB Day on Thursday. The new slogan — “DOTS: Pura Course, Pakka Ilaaj” — (complete DOTS course, total cure) signifies a response to the emerging challenges regarding tuberculosis and its manifestations in the form of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and co-infection with HIV.

The RNTCP is being implemented following the WHO-recommended Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) strategy that provides a sure cure for tuberculosis with 6-8 months course and is available free of cost to the patient in the entire country. India’s DOTS programme is the largest in the world in terms of patients initiated on treatment, placing on an average of more than 1, 25,000 patients on treatment every month.

Since its inception, the RNTCP has initiated over 12.8 million TB patients on treatment, thus saving more than 2.3 million lives. The programme has started responding to new challenges like TB-HIV and MDR-TB. TB-HIV collaborative services were initiated in the year 2000; currently, the entire country is implementing TB-HIV collaborative services. The program has initiated treatment of MDR-TB since 2007 and is currently being implemented in 12 states. RNTCP has prioritised MDR-TB treatment services and these will be available in the entire country by end-2011.

The diagnosis of MDR-TB is a laboratory based diagnosis to be conducted at specialised accredited laboratories. The program is committed to develop 43 such laboratories across the country. Till date, 25 such accredited laboratories have been established for the diagnosis of MDR-TB. This initiative necessitates that communities are made aware of the symptoms of TB, the facilities available for treatment of TB and that they continue to adhere to treatment for the entire duration of 6-8 months for complete cure. This would ensure prevention of emergence of MDR-TB and containment of the spread of tuberculosis in the community.

Keywords: TB careTuberculosisRNTCP