National TB control programme in jeopardy

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

Violation of established norms, guidelines alleged

PATHANAMTHITTA: The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), which was successfully launched as a pilot project in the hill district of Pathanamthitta along with three other districts in 1994, is in jeopardy allegedly owing to the indifference on the part of the authorities concerned in providing necessary support to it.

The World Health Organisation had taken up the RNTCP in Pathanamthitta as a model project in the entire country and the programme was extended to other 13 districts in 2000.

The RNTCP has recorded over 90 per cent cure rate in Pathanamthitta mainly due to the commitment and teamwork of the medical and paramedical team at the District Tuberculosis Centre (DTC) attached to the District Hospital in Kozhencherry.

However, the indifference of the Health authorities in the postings and transfers of medical staff at the DTC has badly affected the programme and the hapless patients at the centre.

Kurien Oommen, who has been the District TB Officer at the centre for the past 12 years, was shifted to the Idukki District Hospital. Dr. Kurien who was instrumental for the RNTCP success in Pathanamthitta has been posted as a civil surgeon in Idukki.

Meanwhile, the lone dermatologist at the Pathanamthitta General Hospital, R. Gopakumar, has been posted as a "part-time'' District TB Officer at the DTC. A Medical Officer for TB Control (MOTC), Rajesh Kumar, joined the DTC on March 8 only to go on long leave for three months the same day itself. District Medical Officer N. Damodaran told The Hindu that the medical officer's leave was sanctioned on the directives from the Directorate of Health Services (DHS).

In another case, one of the two specially trained MOTCs in the district, K.N. Leena, has also been shifted from the taluk hospital in Thiruvalla to the Chengannur Government Hospital a few months.

The DMO said that the MOCT was shifted as a "working arrangement'' on the directive of the DHS during Sabarimala season. The former State president of the KGMOA, G. Gangadharan Pillai, alleged that the transfer and postings of medical officers have been made in gross violation of all the prevailing norms and guidelines.