About 50% tuberculosis deaths are reported from Nirsa colliery area of Jharkhand—the count is the highest in Dhanbad district, state health officials said on Thursday.
They said a maximum number of five TB deaths was reported every year from tribal village Munda Dhowra in Nirsa, which only has 123 families, and which borders on Munga collieries of Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL).
According to the health department figures, at least 950 TB deaths are reported in Jharkhand every year. Out of them, 20 patients die in Dhanbad, of them 10 from Nirsa area and five alone from Munda Dhowra. At least 68 TB patients are reported from the village every year due to coal dust related lung infections, the officials said.
The situation is no better in other villages of Nirsa block, including Baga Kuthi, Nicha Bazar, Gahikhana, Bucchu Bazaar, Chach Patali. Alipur, Bardangal and Taltalla, besides Munda Dhowra.
District tuberculosis officer (DTO) Jayant Kumar said that the major reason behind TB turning more fatal in the area was that the people didn’t continue the medication despite being provided medicines free of charge. However, some patients said that they were not given medicines free. One Binod Munda (19) of Chakunda village said that the health centre staff demanded Rs 25 to Rs 30 each time he went for the medicines.
However, the health officials said that due to discontinued medications, the patients developed resistance to drugs and had to be re-prescribed a different medicine to cure them. Due to this, the district has an increased number of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) patients. And both are fatal, they said.
As per official record, there are 18 XDR TB cases in Jharkhand in which two Balgovind Chauhan and Anil Kumar belong to Dhanbad. Anil Kumar is also an HIV positive case. There are 21 MDR patients in Dhanbad. One MDR patient helps breed 12 to 13 patients in his locality.
District TB -HIV consultant of health department, RS Samadar, said MDR TB patients has to complete two years treatment course which comes at the cost of Rs 2.80 lakh while an XDR TB patient has to undergo a three-year course at the cost of Rs 3.5 lakh to cure the disease. However, poor families can hardly afford the treatment. They often leave the medication in the middle and expose themselves to fatal consequences.
An NGO even claimed that the average life expectancy is in the affected areas had gone down to 50 years against 65 years. One Nandi Mundain (75), an oldest person of Munda Dhowra, said she had not seen villagers attain 55 years due to TB during her 25 years of life. She counts herself as an exception.