Contact tracing imperative to achieve the target of ending tuberculosis in India

New Delhi, 27 September 2018: Governments of various countries have agreed to contribute $13 billion a year by 2022 to prevent and treat tuberculosis (TB), a communicable disease that claimed at least 1.3 million lives last year, as per the WHO.TB killed about 1.3 million people worldwide last year, making it the leading cause of death from an infectious disease ahead of HIV/AIDS. A further 300,000 people with both HIV and TB died in 2017.

Although TB has been successfully contained in developed nations, the poor and developing countries continue to record prevalence of this condition. There is also consensus that drug-resistant variants of this deadly communicable disease pose a growing threat, with India, China and Russia particular affected.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “TB is a major public health problem in India with the country having the largest number of TB cases in the world. Over a quarter of the global TB and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) burden is in India. The risk of developing active disease is very high in the years following exposure and new infection. It is imperative to evaluate close contacts first and expand the contact investigation to casual contacts if evidence of transmission is found. Close contact is defined as individuals with at least four hours of contact per week. This includes those living in the same household or frequent visitors to the house or contacts at work or school.”

Every sputum should be tested with GeneXpert test. It not only diagnoses the presence of TB but also detects rifampicin resistance. No treatment should be started without first confirming rifampicin resistance. Rifampicin resistance indicates primary MDR TB.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the President (Elect), CMAAO, said, “Early diagnosis and complete treatment is important to prevent and control TB. To address the problem of rising drug resistance, TB is a notifiable disease. The approach to all notifiable diseases should therefore be based on DTR “Diagnose, Treat & Report”: Diagnose early, using sputum GeneXpert test; Treat: Complete and effective treatment based on national guidelines, using FDC; and Report: Mandatory reporting.”

This will also be a discussed at the 25th MTNL Perfect Health Mela to be held between 23rd and 27th October 2018, at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi.
Some tips from HCFI.

• Wash your hands after sneezing, coughing or holding your hands near your mouth or nose.
• Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough, sneeze or laugh. Discard used tissues in a plastic bag, then seal and throw it away.
• Do not attend work or school.
• Avoid close contact with others.
• Sleep in a room away from other family members.
• Ventilate your room regularly. TB spreads in small closed spaces. Put a fan in you window to blow out air that may contain bacteria.