In a path breaking initiative to end the tuberculosis menace in West Bengal, Indian Medical Association (IMA), a national voluntary organization of doctors of the modern scientific system of medicine, has highlighted various efforts they have undertaken to achieve the Government of India’s vision to ‘End TB’. The IMA’s initiatives are part of a joint collaboration with the government to reach out to every private doctor and through them, every TB patient in West Bengal.
IMA, with the Central TB Division (CTD), GOI has been making joint efforts to expand notification of TB cases by doctors in the private sector, as notification is an important tool to achieve universal coverage and succeed in the fight against the dreaded disease.
Addressing the media, Dr. Santanu Sen, national president, IMA said, “IMA is taking immense steps to control tuberculosis and efforts are being made to end TB in our country. I will urge the general practitioners to notify TB patients with the concerned authorities so that we can take a step ahead to end TB menace in West Bengal.”
In 2018, in West Bengal, 89,430 patients were notified by public sector and 14,565 cases were notified by private sector. Till date 92,266 TB patients have received nutritional support under Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY).
In addition, IMA is conducting Continuous Medical Education (CME) programmes in each district by engaging district/local IMA branch to make members aware of adhering to the guidelines on tuberculosis management by inviting district TB officers who are playing a pivotal role in TB notifications, Dr Sen said.
Dr Santanu Sen said that in addition, IMA has involved specialized organisations like Association of Physicians of India (API), Association of Surgeons of India (ASI), Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) and Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) to keep their members abreast with the new developments in the TB management. Patient Provider Support Agency (PPSA) activities are taking place in Kolkata and Howrah districts of West Bengal. Non- Patient Provider Support Agency (Non-PPSA) is going on in 17 other districts which includes Murshidabad, South 24 Paraganas, Nadia, Malda, North 24 Paraganas, Basirhat, Medinipur, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Hugli and Jalpaiguri.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Brojo Kishore Saha, Bengal State TB Officer (STO) said, “The RNTCP in collaboration with National Urban Health Mission is tying up with municipal corporations across cities and districts of West Bengal for expansion of health facility based services with outreach activities to increase case detection in urban area.”
In the recent past, the government of India has introduced significant changes in clinical care and patient support system of TB patients to improve quality and coverage of TB patients in the public health system. This include use of molecular diagnostic (CBNAAT) for diagnosis of TB and drug resistant TB at decentralized level, testing for rifampicin resistance for all diagnosed TB patients, shift to daily regimen for treatment of drug susceptible TB patients, newer and shorter regimen for drug resistant TB patients and NIKSHAY Poshan Yojana to assist TB patients for nutrition.
The Regional Programme Management Units have been established for strengthening monitoring and capacity building support. 895 Microscopy centers, 76 CBNAAT machines, 9 Nodal DR-TB centers and 26 District DRTB Centres, have been set up for catering to slum and marginalized population and to further expand TB case diagnosis services as well as the state has made systematic efforts to engage private pharmacies to take their support in increasing notifications..
Dr Sen further added that IMA is regularly monitoring TB notifications and all districts have conducted meetings with drug control officers and chemist associations. In addition, IMA is taking innovative steps to promote NIKSHAY app and incentives to improve notification from private sector. The IMA is working to galvanize doctors in the private sector to increase notification and work toward the cause of ending TB by optimal utilization of NIKSHAY.
He said that IMA will be concentrating on women and children more this year.
NIKSHAY is a useful mobile phone app that allows doctors to notify TB patients through a simple interface also helps in TB patient management and care. NIKSHAY has been upgraded to a more user friendly version 2.0 that is compatible with both web based and app based platforms. Private doctors can also use other methods including the government’s call centre at 1800-11-6666 for notification of TB patients and for support and more information.