Despite tall claims by the health department on spreading awareness about tuberculosis (TB), the disease continues to take its toll in the city.
As per a survey conducted by an NGO, as many as 786 cases of TB were reported in the three months-April to June-this year.
In 2011, 672 cases of TB were reported in the city in the corresponding period.
The figures produced by the survey put a question mark over the health department's anti-TB campaign and the civic body's claims of keeping the city neat and clean.
The study says the city witnesses approximately 5,000 cases of TB every year.
Last year, around 2,900 cases of TB were reported from the city, while the number of patients who sought treatment stood at 3,866 in 2010.
Most of the TB cases were reported from slums colonies situated in Verka, Hindustani Basti, Haripura, Indira Colony and the nearby slums.
"The disease is mainly caused by the lack of hygiene, which is why most of the cases come from the filth-ridden slum areas," said a health expert.
What adds to the disease is the dropout rate: patients who leave the treatment midway.
The dropout rate is considerable high in the slum areas, says the survey.
Though health officials claim that this number is quite negligible, that doesn't seem to be the case.
"The extremely cramped quarters and filthy slum areas provided the disease-carrying bacteria a veritable atmosphere to proliferate," said Rajeev Choudhary, district coordinator, Project Axshaya, Amritsar and Tarn Taran, a voluntary health association of India.
"The lack of seriousness and the consequent dropout rate are the major challenges in Amritsar. The sensitisation projects are yielding results, but a lot needs to be done to reduce the dropout rate," he said.
According to him the dropout rate was steadily increasing in the absence of ways and means to ensure that patients do not forego their treatment midway.
"Such patients are more susceptible to being infected with TB and passing it on to people coming in their contact. Poor immunity is another reason for the proliferation of the disease," said Choudhary.
Civil surgeon Dr HS Ghai attributed the increasing incidence of TB to the migrant workers based in the slums of the city.
He said efforts were being made to spread awareness among this class through various campaigns. "There are several challenges involved in dealing with TB, but we are doing our best to make a success of our campaigns," said Ghai.