BY ABDUL RAUF BEIG | NT
PANAJI: Though Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) has been a success and helped the state authorities to significantly bring down the cases of default and drug resistance and cure a far larger number of patients, some more proactive measures by the government could go a long way in minimizing the number of TB infection in the state.
According to Dr Antonio Lamartin Da Costa, associate professor in the Department of TB and Chest Diseases and nodal officer for RNTPC in Goa Medical College, most cases of default were among the alcoholics, patients with psychiatric problems and also addicted to drugs, migrant labourers and homeless people and as such rather than making these patients come to DOTS centres it would be better if they were admitted to a dedicated TB hospital.
For this purpose, the government can revive the TB hospital at Margao, which has a 120 bed capacity and admit people with TB till they are fully cured of the disease. By admitting these patients to a hospital for a longer period till they are cured would serve dual purpose as the patients would be cured of the disease and they also can undergo detoxification.
“This will minimize infection to a large extent as the patients who otherwise move freely and can infect 15 others would be housed in the hospital and as such the chances of infecting others would be minimized,” Dr Da Costa said, adding that totally curing them and then discharging them would help containing infection to others.
Stating that this would also help in preventing default by TB patients and development of resistance to drugs, he went on to add that it is better to treat category I TB cases than the multi-drug resistant cases. The admission of homeless, alcoholics, etc in the hospital would help contain spread of disease.
“Such a move would minimize infection in the society to a large extent as these patients who default on taking medicine would find a shelter and food and help themselves and government in treatment and prevention of spread of TB,” he added.
The state government would, however, have to pump in funds to undertake this drive; he said adding that the funds would not be a waste as they would be spent for the well being of the society. The RNTCP is supported by the central government.
He said that under RNTCP, the patients with TB are given medication under DOTS (directly observed treatment short course) at the health centres, sub-centres etc and in cases there were no such centres the services of religious heads and others were being utilised to ensure that full course of medication was given to the patients as prescribed.
According to Dr Da Costa there was possibility of around 3 per cent of newly diagnosed patients developing resistance to the drug and in the cases of patients coming for re-treatment the chances of developing resistance was as high as 12-15 per cent. He said that in most cases there was sure chance of fully treating the disease if full course of medication was taken by the patients.