Four out of 10 diagnosed patients of tuberculosis across Chhattisgarh do not continue their six months treatment as well as medication and left in the midway which is responsible for rising cases of Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis across Chhattisgarh. Most of these patients go missing or never show up in Revised National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programme which are being operated at all civil hospitals as well as district tuberculosis department or centre in all districts of the state. Almost 23,900 out of 1.3 lakh registered patients of TB do not have access to a government TB centre and around half of the patients either complete their long diagnostic process or medical treatment. The missing patients are very important because each patient with active TB can infect 10 to 15 more people within time duration of one year or in next six months.
Experts from the Indian Council of Medical Research and others found that only 41 per cent of TB patients in the state managed a one year recurrence free survival. “We estimated that of about 1.3 lakh prevalent TB patients in Chhattisgarh, only 70 per cent managed to reach government TB health facilities but the reality is that only 60.2% succeeded to visit health centres for getting full treatment of disease” said one senior medical officer of the tuberculosis department in the Chhattisgarh. At every progressive step, the number of patients kept shrinking. At the stage of seeking successful diagnosis, instead of reducing, there has been a rise in the number of those patients with symptoms of TB who have not received proper treatment of this disease. Finally, only 55% of the 1.3 lakh registered patients at government TB centres did the medication and worse is that only 50% of patients completed the treatment of over 6 months to 10 months.
The maximum number of patients who quit their treatment in midway is of Bastar and its neighbouring districts of Dantewada, Kanker, Kondagaon, Sukma and Bijapur. But the problem is that Raipur as well as Durg districts which are now advanced one also face such kind of problems as here too owing to social stigma and rumours, most of them left their treatment in midway and do not want to go for complete medication and treatment. A part of the problem is owing to inadequate diagnostic facilities. ‘Each patient has to be diagnosed with two sputum smears and is put on a course of antibiotics. Thereafter, the patient undergoes a chest X ray as well as further treatment before being identified as a TB patient. Many patients who are living in rural areas do not complete this rigorous and lengthy process of treatment’ said Dr V Meshram, retired TB officer of Chhattisgarh Health Services. Half of the patients who make it to the government sector are lost in these two stages.
Worse only 25 per cent patients of TB Drug Resistant complete their full treatment at hospitals and other health centres. In fact, owing to lack of awareness and other rumours regarding this disease and its symptoms, most of the patients have to struggle a lot to live a smooth life in the society. Because of it, many of them also try to hide the infection of TB and cause more difficulties. When contacted, Dr Jayaprakash, State Officer of TB in Chhattisgarh also expressed his concern over it and said that people should understand the importance of complete medication and treatment. It is really a sad affair that many of them do not want to continue their six month treatment because of social stigma and fear of facing so many taunts of society regarding their treatment as well as medication.
*By – Mandira Sinha