The State TB Cell officials are mulling signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the postal department to transport sputum samples from Primary Health Centres to Cartridge Based Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (CBNAAT) laboratories in district headquarters.
The move aims to reduce the time taken to test samples for Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR TB). If MDR TB goes undetected, the patient might spread the disease to others.
Early detection is key
Health department officials said that early detection of MDR TB helps in early treatment, which also helps in checking its spread. When the bacteria that causes TB becomes resistant to drugs such as Isoniazid and Rifampicin, it is called MDR TB.
There are 750 Designated Microscopy Centres (DMCs) in PHCs in Telangana, where sputum samples are tested for the disease. If a sample tests positive for TB, the patient is provided drugs and the samples are again sent to CBNAAT laboratories at the district headquarters, where tests are conducted to know if it is a MDR TB case.
Currently, lab technicians at DMCs send the sputum samples to CBNAAT labs through courier. If a DMC is located in a remote area, the technician has to reach the mandal headquarters or some other far-away place where courier service is available.
“Lab technicians in remote areas have to travel all the way to mandal headquarters to send samples through courier. They take their own time to send the samples. To cut down the time taken, we will enter into an MoU with the postal department so that the technicians just have to drop the samples at post offices, which will be sent to CBNAAT labs from there,” said Dr. Adepu Rajesham, Telangana State TB officer.
This system was being implemented on a pilot project basis in Nalgonda and Nizamabad for the past two months. Officials said that they intended to follow it in the entire State. “We will sign the MoU after analysing the results of the pilot project,” Dr. Rajesham said.
Meanwhile, to avoid MDR TB, medicines need to be taken without any gap for six to nine months, health officials said. Within one or two months of taking the medicines, the effect of bacteria (Mycobacterium Tuberculosis) reduces.