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Govt Implements Largest Digital Programme for TB Surveillance

India has achieved “significant progress” in scaling up molecular diagnoses and is undertaking the largest digital project for tuberculosis surveillance and monitoring, according to an official speaking at a health writers’ conference in the capital on Wednesday.

The National Health Writers and Influencers Convention, held at AIIMS in Delhi, included experts discussing the most recent breakthroughs, problems, and collaborative solutions in the battle against tuberculosis.

Although tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top causes of mortality and disability in India, impacting millions of people each year, physicians say the condition is not fatal and can be treated properly.

Dr Sanjay K Mattoo, additional deputy director general, Central TB Division, NTEP, Union Health Ministry gave an overview of the NTEP and its aims and challenges at the event. NTEP or National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme aims to end TB by 2025.

Mattoo said India has made significant progress in scaling up molecular diagnostics, providing the most advanced medicines, and implementing the largest digital programme for TB surveillance and monitoring.

He also mentioned various collaborations and partnerships that the NTEP has forged with other ministries, such as labour, HRD, the railways, and with civil society and private sector organisations, to reach out to more TB patients and provide them with quality care and support.

He also cited the Aarogya Saathi app, which provides information and counselling to patients, and the Nikshay Poshan Yojana, which transfers money directly to the patients’ bank accounts as government initiatives that empower TB patients.

Healthcare experts, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners from the healthcare landscape attended the eighth edition of the event, organised by HEAL Foundation at AIIMS hospital.

Experts highlighted that there were still many gaps and barriers that hinder the effective diagnosis, treatment and prevention of TB, especially for drug-resistant TB (DRTB), which is harder to cure and more contagious.

Dr Rupak Singla, head of department of TB and chest disease, NITRD, highlighted the importance of early and accurate diagnosis of TB, the availability of new drug regimen, and the use of digital technology for TB management.

Singla also shared the experience of running a TB clinic, which is a unique model of online consultation and follow-up for patients with complex and resistant forms of TB. He said that this model has been replicated by neighbouring countries and has shown good results.

Citing the example of actor Amitabh Bachchan, who was cured of TB after taking medicines, he said that the disease was not a death sentence and can be cured with proper treatment.

Dr Vijay Hadda, additional professor, Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, AIIMS, Delhi, focused on the social and environmental determinants of TB, such as poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, and poor ventilation.

Hadda said since TB is a disease of the poor and the marginalised, addressing the social and economic factors that make people vulnerable to TB is also essential for its elimination.

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Source: Business Standard

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