Special Correspondent

A Union Government official remarked that it was the ‘worst in the country’

Cure rate in many districts very low compared

to the national average

Starting April, a monthly review of RNTCP in each district will be held

BANGALORE: Even after the introduction of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), the rate of tuberculosis prevention, detection and cure in Karnataka had been abysmally low compared to other States, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Madan Gopal said here on Monday.

Participating in the World TB Day-2008 function, jointly organised by the Department of Health and Family Welfare and the Karnataka State Tuberculosis Prevention Association, Mr. Madan Gopal said though there was no shortage of funds and human resource, the cure rate of TB in many districts, particularly Bijapur, was very low compared to the national average. “It is a system failure and the programme has not received priority,” he remarked.

A senior official of the Union Government, who visited the State recently, had rated Karnataka’s performance in regard to TB control as the “worst in the country.” Even consultants from the World Health Organisation, who visited Bijapur district, had expressed concern over the issue, Mr. Madan Gopal said.

Officials from the Department of Health and Family Welfare had discussed the working of RNTCP and a few other projects with Governor Rameshwar Thakur. The Government had appointed programme officers in those districts were the performance was bad. Starting April, a monthly review of RNTCP in each district would be held and the erring officials would not be spared, he said.

As the World TB Day-2008 was being observed with the theme “I am stopping TB,” hundreds of people who participated in the event at the Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall took a pledge to stop the killer disease. Mr. Madan Gopal said the TB Day should become a “re-dedication day” for all those connected with the TB control programme.

According to RNTCP statistics released by the department on Monday, 67,688 cases of TB were registered in the State during 2007 as against 64,715 in 2006. As many as 25,976 new smear positive cases were detected during 2007. The cure rate has plummeted to 75 per cent in 2007 from 78 per cent in 2006 and 81 per cent in 2005.

Sri Japananda Swamiji of Swami Vivekananda Samagra Grameena Vikasa Samsathe of Pavagada in Tumkur district released publicity material brought out by the department to create awareness about TB among the public.

Basavaraju, Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Services; Prema Leela, Director of Health and Family Welfare; and Shashidhar Buggi, Director of SDM Tuberculosis Sanatorium and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases; were present.

Programme launched

As the chances of HIV patients contracting TB are very high, Connect on Monday launched its TB workplace intervention programme in association with the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Connect is an initiative of Population Services International and is financially supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and technically supported by International Labour Organisation. Connect aims to mobilise and support companies to implement HIV/AIDS training programme for their own staff as well as to develop a HIV/AIDS workplace policy for their workforce.

To mark the World TB Day, Connect extended its programme to TB and launched the workplace TB intervention programme at Texport Industries Private Ltd. in Peenya, which has a workforce of 11,000. Sportsperson Nisha Millet, Connect Director Vivek Sharma and Manager (Human Resource) of Texport Zaivi were present.

A Connect spokesperson said that considering the “explosive link” between TB and HIV, they were strengthening the project by launching TB workplace intervention programme in Karnataka and it would be later extended to coastal Andhra Pradesh. The RNTCP would be the technical partner for the new project.