All equipment in place: health official
Though Puducherry has nine registered patients undergoing treatment for Multiple Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB), the Intermediate Reference Lab here is yet to receive accreditation from the Central TB division of the Director General of Health Services.
The accreditation is essential for the region to get the Universal DOTS plus programme implemented. At present, the patients are being treated with funds from the local government.
As per the original schedule of the Central TB Division, the accreditation will be provided only in 2012, according to Director of Health and Family Welfare Dilip Kumar Baliga. “Usually, for every one crore population, there should be a National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for testing and treatment of MDR-TB. As the Puducherry region does not have a crore of population, the accreditation is being delayed,” he said. The accreditation has been made compulsory after the Revised National Tuberculosis Programme came into effect.
Dr. Baliga said all machinery required for testing are in place and the lab could accommodate persons from the neighbouring districts if accreditation is provided. At present, the patients are being referred to the NRL in Chennai. According to S. Govindarajan, the TB control officer, Puducherry, there are only two NRLs in Tamil Nadu and the labs are over burdened. The Puducherry region has already achieved the national benchmark of 85 per cent detection rate for new sputum positive patients. According to the latest data available, the success rate for completed treatment among new sputum positive cases is 87.45 per cent.
Though the death rate due to TB was 111 cases in 2006, the officer said this was due to the fact that field officers were not accustomed to reporting under the Revised National Tuberculosis Programme which was implemented in 2004 and that large numbers of default cases were reported as death. In 2008, the number of death cases came down to 67.