At the recently held TB review and orientation Meeting with the Irish Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross- India Team, many valuable community inputs could be added with the help of Video Conferencing facility at the IRCS National Headquarters.
This meeting held on 4th February at the multi conference facility of the IRCS NHQ was attended by Mr John Roche, Head of National Services and International Department, Irish Red Cross on Video Conferencing from his Ireland Office and Dr S P Agarwal, Secretary General, IRCS, Dr R S Gupta, Deputy Director General(TB),Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI, Secretary of the Punjab State Branch, WHO Punjab State TB advisor, Mr Alex Munai, Cooperation Head, ICRC, Dr Rajeev Sadana, Cooperation Advisor, ICRC, Dr Raizada, Advisor (Health), IFRC, Senior officials of the Indian Red Cross Society National Headquarters and TB coordinators in the IRCS National Headquarters. The Indian Red Cross has been running the TB programme in 21 districts in 7 states in the country.
According to WHO, India has the highest number of TB patients with an estimated 1.8 million new cases taking place every year. It has also the highest number of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis patients. Apart from this the burden on India is also of the 1,00,000 missing TB cases who run the risk of converting into MDR TB cases as well as infecting everyone in direct contact with them.
The IRCS TB (India) Programme has been running in Punjab since 2009. The IRCS volunteers ensure detection of TB and also timely DOTS treatment which is administered under the RNTPC programme of Government of India. The programme also prevents these patients from converting to the dangerous MDR-TB that can occur in 20 % of untreated Cat II patients. This programme has a 100 percent adherence rate which is certified by the doctors in-charge of the respective DOTS centres in the project districts.
There is a proposal to now expand the programme in Punjab to 400 cat I defaulter TB patients in two districts i.e. Amritsar and Jalandhar. In order to strengthen the reach of the programme, difficult cases like migrants, rickshaw pullers, alcoholics and regularly irregular Cat I & II patients will also be targeted.
On the cards is also the use of on-station detection vans which will have x-ray and sputum collection facility. Urban slums and scattered cases will also be targeted. Indian Red Cross will also endeavour on finding 1,000 missed cases in these districts. The DTO has assured that a list of regularly irregular cases will be provided to the Red Cross volunteers for follow up. It has been agreed upon that a DOTS kit will be provided to the volunteers so they can administer the treatment at residence for very sick patients
During the implementation reviews it was found that many cases of TB were undetected in the prisons. The IRCS will also extend the TB (India) Programme to the Amritsar prison with support from its movement partner, the ICRC. Due to sensitivity of area of operation, the state Home Secretary will be asked formally for a permission which will be copied to the DGP, Punjab. Through the help of the jail authorities the volunteers will ensure screening of all prisoners, detection of TB patients and screening for their family members since they are extremely vulnerable, as well as timely DOTS treatment.