Now, unique identity number for TB patients

The creation of such a record-keeping system is of great significance for Mumbai, which in January reported the country’s first cases of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis, now know as extra extensively drug resistant (XXDR).

Tackling TB and its deadly strains, in fact, is the city administration’s top health priority.

The idea for assigning a unique number to every TB patient was floated by the Central TB division, which comes under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

It will mainly serve  two purposes. First, it will help health officials prepare a nation-wide database of people afflicted by the disease and the line of treatments followed by them. Second, it will prevent patients from being prescribed the same medication by different doctors.

Duplication of medicines often leads to drug resistance among patients, complicating the treatment.

“It is one of the most common problems while dealing with TB patients as many of them change hospitals abruptly or even migrate (to a new city) for a few months and start the treatment afresh,” said BMC’s TB officer, Dr Mini Khetarpal. “Pulling out their records is almost impossible as majority of the people don’t maintain their files.”

According to Khetarpal, a patient’s medication and treatment depends on the type and severity of the infection. “The patient may be suffering from multi-drug resistant (MDR), extensively drug resistant (XDR) or extra extensively drug resistant (XXDR) TB,” she explained.

Initially, unique identity numbers will be given to only patients undergoing treatment under the government’s Revised National TB Control Programme.

In Mumbai, six data-entry operators have already been familiarised with the process, and 18 more will be trained in the next two weeks.

TB is a bacterial infection that destroys patients’ lung tissue, making them cough and sneeze, and spread germs through the air. Anyone with active TB can easily infect another 10 people a year.

The disease came into global spotlight earlier this year after doctors at Mahim’s Hinduja Hospital reported 12 TB cases of a new lethal strain. Of the 12 people, mostly slum dwellers, five died.

Ordinary TB can be cured by taking antibiotics for six to nine months. However, if the treatment is interrupted, the dose reduced or duplicated, stubborn TB-causing bacteria fight back and mutate into a tougher strain, which standard drugs cannot eliminate.

In 2010, 8.8 million people had TB, and the Geneva-based World Health Organization has predicted that more than 2 million people will contract multi-drug resistant TB by 2015. The worldwide TB death rate currently runs at between two and three people a mi

Source :      2012/7/26

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