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Pharmacists failing to notify TB cases to be penalised

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    08 May 2018

More than 28 lakh cases of TB are reported every year in the country. Only 14 lakh patients are listed by government hospitals.

Hyderabad: The decision of the Union ministry of health to file criminal cases against doctors and pharmacists who do not report tuberculosis cases has not gone down well with the medical community, who have stated that all cases of TB are referred to government hospitals.

Dr T. Narsinga Reddy, president of the Indian Medical Association in Telangana explained, “TB patients are not treated in private clinics due to government programs, where they get free medicines. However affluent the patient may be, they are asked to go to government hospitals as it is mandatory. Private doctors are cautious and such rules only make them take further preventive measures.”

The super speciality hospitals treating these patients have a separate unit to notify the cases to the government. But other centres diagnosing and treating the disease are not notifying, hence causing this disparity.

The state TB control unit states that only 15 per cent of tuberculosis cases in the state are reported by private hospitals. The biggest challenge lies in the semi-urban and rural areas, where these cases are not being reported.

According to new rules, failure to report tuberculosis cases will now be punishable under Section 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code which refers to a negligent act leading to spread of diseases dangerous to life.

The diagnostic tests are carried out by various private centres to confirm tuberculosis and often the treatment is started without notification. A senior doctor on condition of anonymity explained, “Family physicians, small clinics and also medium-sized private hospitals refuse to take in TB patients as it becomes very hard for them to manage. The big hospitals who have staff to notify the disease and also take care of the patient are the only ones who are doing it.”

Being a highly contagious disease, private clinics do not encourage treatment as it could affect other patients. Dr G. Srinivas, senior general physician, explained, “These rules come as a deterrent and it is the patient who suffers as they will have to go to government centres seeking treatment.”

The government has been taking these steps to ensure that missing patients are also notified and treated. For this reason, pharmacists have also been brought under the radar so that the dispensation of TB drugs can help them track the patients.

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