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More GeneXpert machines to pick up drug resistant TB cases : J P Nadda

Kalyan Ray, New Delhi, DH News Services, Sep 21 2017, 14:53 IST
Union Health Minister J P Nadda. PTI file photo

Union Health Minister J P Nadda. PTI file photo

The Union Health Ministry plans to further widen its TB diagnostic network as it seeks to bring more drug-resistant patients into the treatment net.

The central government would buy another 500 rapid diagnostic instruments for quick diagnosis of regular and drug-resistant TB cases so that the treatment can be started at the earliest. While India has 121 of these machines, more is required due to the spread of TB all over the country.

“We will another 500 CB-NAAT (cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test) machines,” union health minister J P Nadda said here on Wednesday after briefing the Union Cabinet about the progress made in the health sector.

The ministry's decision to buy the CB-NAAT (more popular as GeneXpert) machines comes nearly six months after a government report demonstrated how nearly 10 lakh Indian TB patients were not picked by the existing healthcare system, exposing the population to potential health threats from these undetected TB cases.

According to the scientific estimates worked out by the Union Health Ministry and World Health Organisation's estimates, India houses approximately 28 lakh TB patients.

But the reporting system – comprising both government clinics and hospitals and the private sector – could find only about 17.5 lakh TB patients and an additional 33,820 drug-resistant cases in 2016, according to the annual TB report, released in March.

Nadda said both incidence and mortality reduced in the last 15 years. The incidence of TB was reduced from 289 per 100,000 population in 2010 to 217 in 2015. Similarly, mortality too dropped from 56 per 100,000 in 2010 to 36 in 2015.

However, public health researchers said the emergence of the number of TB patients was too high and drug-resistant has emerged as a major public health challenge for which the rapid diagnostic network needs to be expanded.

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