Bihar is alarmed by rising incidence of the dreaded extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), which has shown an increase of 150% over the last couple of years. The cure rate in XDR-TB is hardly 40%.
Officially, against the detection of 65 XDR-TB patients in 2015, 100 fresh cases were reported in the state by the end of 2016. Till December 2014, there was no trace of XDR-TB in Bihar.
“As of today 165 patients suffering from the deadly disease are undergoing treatment at different centres of the state,” said Bihar TB officer Dr KN Sahay. “The maximum number of such cases has been reported from Darbhanga, Patna and Vaishali districts,” he added.
XDR-TB patients do not respond to most of the first and second line of anti-TB drugs and they require the use of third line of medicines, which are costlier and have more side effects.
Sahay said XDR-TB develops in a patient if anti-TB drugs are misused or mismanaged. In other words, it happens when TB patients fail to complete the full course of treatment, or when health care providers prescribe the wrong treatment or the wrong dose or for too short a period of time. Also, poor quality of drugs may lead to XDR-TB in a patient suffering from tuberculosis.
“The best way to prevent XDR-TB is to the take anti-TB drugs for the prescribed time,” said former professor and head of department of paediatrics, Nalanda Medical College Hospital, Dr SA Krishna. “Poor quality of medicare is at the root of the problem and it would not be surprising if more patients land up in the total drug resistant (TDR) category for which there is no treatment,” he said.
At present, there is no reported case of TDR in Bihar.
The state TB officer squarely blamed patients for the increase in XDR-TB cases. “The state can provide drugs but cannot make the patients take them,” he said. He claimed that most of the patients were those who work as migrants in other states, particularly Mumbai.
To ensure uninterrupted administration of anti-TB drugs, the government has planned to provide medicines to patients on a daily basis from February 15. As per the existing provision, patients are given drugs thrice in a week.