While health officials debate whether a virulent strain of tuberculosis (TB) detected by Hinduja Hospital is “curable” or not, 152 TB patients die on an average every month at the civic-body-run TB Hospital in Sewree.
According to data provided by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), a total of 1,825 TB patients died at the Sewree hospital last year.
The number of deaths in the state’s sole public TB hospital is “alarming”, said experts. In Delhi, on an average, 70 TB deaths were recorded every month, according to the Delhi government’s Directly Observed TB Short (DOTS) Course report.
The 1,000 bed Sewree hospital is the only public hospital in the state dedicated to TB and caters to patients from across the state. “Patients admitted to the Sewree hospital are usually critical. They usually receive some treatment from private practitioners and are sent to us after their health deteriorates,” said Dr Rajendra Nanavare, medical superintendent, TB Hospital, Sewree.
“The number of deaths (at the Sewree hospital) is significant,” said Dr Jehangir Sorabjee, infectious diseases expert, Bombay Hospital. He, however, added that the hospital usually gets TB patients whose condition has been made worse by private practitioners, and therefore, the hospital cannot be blamed for the high number of deaths.
“Around 80% of the patients who come to us get cured completely after treatment. Only 10-20% of these get admitted because of complications. Of these, around 5% patients die,” said Dr Nanavare.
In the past three years, Maharashtra has had the second highest number of TB deaths in the country after Uttar Pradesh (see box). Normally, TB patients are given treatment on an outpatient department (OPD) basis. They are usually admitted only if they show symptoms such as coughing blood or have an adverse reaction to a drug.
The data accessed by HT (from April 2010 to December 2011) indicates that that the number of deaths among men is nearly double that among women patients. Last year, 191 patients died in October, which was the highest number of deaths in 2011.
Given the high mortality figures, health activists have welcomed the BMC’s move to intensify its programme to handle the rising incidence of drug resistant TB in light of the Hinduja Hospital’s announcement that it had detected 12 patients with totally drug resistant TB (TDR-TB).
Patients suffering from TDR-TB do not respond to first and second line of TB treatment.