Fine, jail for failing to report TB cases

Move to improve notification from private hospitals

Updated - March 22, 2018 02:10 pm IST

Published - March 21, 2018 10:02 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A file photo of a patient undergoing treatment for TB in Varanasi.

A file photo of a patient undergoing treatment for TB in Varanasi.

Chemists and hospital staff treating tuberculosis (TB) patients, who don’t inform health authorities about them, could face up to two years in jail, says a notification by the Union Health Ministry. The notification, made public on March 16, requires chemists and druggists to provide district officials with personal details and information on the medicines taken by TB patients.

India has the maximum number of TB patients and many of them seek treatment in private hospitals. The notification, according to authorities, seeks to push private hospitals and establishments to do more for containing the spread of TB.

A 2014 study in The Lancet reported that there were 2.2 million TB patients treated in India’s private sector alone, or about 2-3 times higher than current estimates of the incidence of the disease. This could be an underestimated number as the analysis did not account for cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

According to a WHO report released in January , India had about 2.79 million new cases of TB in 2016 and the disease killed about 4,35,000 persons. Only about 1.3 million of them were known to be receiving treatment under the government’s TB control programme, and only about 3,30,000of these patients emerged from the private sector. “The aim is primarily to improve notification [of TB patients] from the private sector,” said Sunil Kharpade, an official involved in India’s TB control programme.

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