Rise in TB cases notified from private sector

In 2018, there were 2.15 million new tuberculosis (TB) case notifications in India, an increase of 3 lakh (16%) cases in a single year, for the first time in the history of the National Tuberculosis Programme. More importantly, private notifications have increased by 38.1% in the last one year — from 3.91 lakh in 2017 to 5.4 lakh in 2018.

However, the challenge is that while over half of all TB patients in India seek care in the private sector, the case notifications from the sector are way behind those from government hospitals. Although the Union Health Ministry had set a target to reach 15 lakh case notifications from the private sector in 2018, only 5.4 lakh cases have been notified from across the country.

TB is a notifiable disease in the country since May 2012, for which the government has set up a Web-based, case-based notification network called NIKSHAY. Despite awareness regarding mandatory TB notification, a significant number of private practitioners do not report cases and this had led to cases being missed out of government data.

Sources in the Union Health Ministry attributed the increase in private notifications to several initiatives taken up last year, including JEET (Joint Effort for Elimination of TB) Project. An innovative private sector engagement model through interface agencies was introduced in over 400 districts of the country.

Also, the Union Health Ministry, for the first time criminalised non-reporting of tuberculosis in early 2018 and as per the government notification, doctors, hospital authorities, and chemists could face a jail term for not notifying TB cases. The Indian Medical Association was also roped in to sensitise private doctors to notify every TB patient.

Marginal progress

Health officials in Karnataka admitted that there is a need for more reporting of cases by the private sector. While private doctors are reluctant to notify cases, laxity on part of chemists in monitoring the sale of anti-TB drugs that are covered under Schedule H1 of Drugs and Cosmetics Act has also hit the State’s fight against the infectious disease.

However, State Joint Director (TB) M. Manjula told The Hindu that private notifications in 2018 had improved marginally compared with those reported in 2017.

In 2017, of the total 78,090 cases notified, 11,986 (15.34%) were from the private sector. Of the 83,112 total notified cases in Karnataka in 2018, 14,329 (17.24%) were from the private sector.

“We are hoping to further improve this figure this year and have initiated several measures in this regard. The challenge is to reach out to the private sector in bigger cities,” she added.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 11:39:33 AM |

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