Union Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies K.V. Thomas will inaugurate the State-level ‘World Tuberculosis Day' observance at the Maharaja's College here on Saturday. Mayor Tony Chammany will deliver the keynote address and Hibi Eden, MLA, will preside over the function.

Announcing the observance here on Thursday, State TB Officer S. Jayasankar and District TB Officer Savitha said tuberculosis still posed a huge challenge to public health in the country, home to one-fifth of the world's TB patients.

They said that the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), which was introduced in the State in 1998, had so far succeeded in identifying 12,896 TB patients in Ernakulam district alone. About 84 per cent of them were cured. “The Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS), a system of treating TB patients under the direct supervision of a volunteer, has been highly effective as the volunteer ensures that the patients do not skip their medicine during the six-to-nine months of treatment prescribed for pulmonary tuberculosis.”

Currently available in government hospitals in the State, DOTS would now be extended to cover 1,000 private hospitals as well, they said.

Dr. Jayasankar said that free, comprehensive treatment for Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDRTB), a lethal form of TB, was also available in the State under the national programme. “About 450 MDRTB cases, including 64 in Ernakulam, have been reported in the State since the inception of the programme. Three cases of XDRTB (Extensively Drug Resistant TB) have also come up during this period. Cough hygiene plays a significant role in curbing the spread of the disease,” he said.

Held with a motto of ‘Stop TB in my Lifetime', this year's TB Day observance in the State will begin with a TB awareness walk, to be flagged off by City Deputy Police Commissioner T. Gopalakrishna Pillai, at High Court Junction on Saturday morning.

At Maharaja's College, Collector Sheik Pareed will inaugurate the sale of the 62{+n}{+d}TB stamp. Later in the day, a skit on TB awareness, directed by Shibu Jayaraj, assistant surgeon at the Medical College Hospital Unit in Ambalapuzha, will be staged.

Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme has identified 12,896 TB patients in Ernakulam.