TB deaths in Mumbai fall by 24% in 3 years: BMC
Deaths in Mumbai due to tuberculosis (TB) have fallen by 24% in three years, according to data released by municipal health officials ahead of World TB day on March 24.
There were 7,391 TB-related deaths reported in the city in 2013 across public and private hospitals as compared to 5,634 deaths in 2016. Officials from the government’s Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme said they are in the process of compiling data for the number of tuberculosis-related deaths in 2017 and 2018.
Dr Daksha Shah, the city’s TB officer, attributed the decrease in the number of fatalities to better patient services in diagnosis and treatment. “We are now increasingly going to the private sector where we are giving diagnostic facilities like X-ray, geneXpert and treatment free of cost, which has reduced out-of-pocket expenditure, which has helped patients avail services better,” she said.
Data from the BMC shows that the number of new cases of both drug-sensitive TB and multi-drug resistant (MDR) forms has increased marginally last year. In 2018, there were 46,513 reported cases of drug sensitive infections as compared to 45,675 in 2017. Similarly 4,969 cases of MDR were reported as compared to 4,891 cases in 2017.
Dr Padmaja Keskar, BMC’S executive health officer, said the numbers of case are stagnating, which suggests the transmission has reduced. “For any disease, before the decline there is a phase where the numbers plateau. It seems we have reached that stage for TB in the city,” she said. Dr Yatin Dholakia, from the Maharashtra State Anti-TB Association, agreed that there has been an overall increase in TB care in the city, but said a 10-year period is ideal to reach any conclusion on epidemiological data.
Health officials said the biggest challenge in the TB control programme is that patients abandon treatment. Among MDR patients, nearly 17% of patients do not complete the drug schedule, risking their lives and potentially infecting others with resistant forms of the infection.
To ensure regular treatment, the BMC’s health department has decentralised the treatment of MDR by starting centres in peripheral hospitals over the past two years. “At seven centres, we have started TB outpatient departments. Patients who are experiencing side-effects can visit centres closer to their house now,” Dr Shah said.