Nearly six million Delhiites vulnerable to TB

September 7th, 2008 - 6:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Nearly six million Delhiites of its population of 15 million are vulnerable to tuberculosis, a health ministry official said. “At least 40 percent of the population is vulnerable to TB,” L.S. Chauhan, deputy director general (TB), ministry of health and family welfare, told IANS.

“This does not mean that Delhi is home to six million TB patients at this point of time. But yes they are vulnerable. Unless they take precautions, many of them can fall victim to the disease,” Chauhan said.

Last financial year, nearly 50,000 new cases were put under TB treatment of which 13,695 were sputum infectious cases.

V.K. Arora, vice chairman of the TB association of India (TBI) said: “The majority of the TB victims in Delhi or any other part of the country are migrant labourers, slum dwellers, residents of crowded localities, and pockets of urban slums.”

“Poor living conditions and malnutrition are other reasons for the spread of the disease,” Arora added.

To deliberate on the threat of TB and other chest diseases, Delhi is hosting an international conference beginning Monday. Nearly 500 experts from south Asian countries and some from France are participating in the three-day conference.

Chauhan, however, said that the revised national tuberculosis control programme (RNTCP) is doing a good job in curbing the spread in the city.

Since 1997 (till March 2008), Chauhan said, 354,116 patients have been put on DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment - Short Course) regime.

According to ministry statistics, in Delhi, the DOTS programme has so far saved over 62,000 lives. The death rate has been consistently below 2.5 percent.

While the general risk of infection is 1.9 percent, in urban slums it is 2.2 percent.

Authorities said Delhi has so far established 188 diagnostic facilities and there are nearly 580 DOTS centres across the city. The state is among the three states (Maharashtra and Gujarat are others) to have introduced DOTS plus to battle drug resistant TB.

India is amongst the top TB prevalent countries in the world and its contribution to the disease’s burden is at least 20 percent.

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