Test patients for MDR-TB right at the start, eminent citizens tell PM

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 24 Maret 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A group of eminent Indians have, in a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suggested that all Indian tuberculosis (TB) patients should undergo drug-sensitivity tests at the earliest to check the deadly spread of resistant forms of TB.

The letter signed by, among others, industrialist Adi Godrej, scientists M S Swaminathan and Ramesh Mashelkar and actor Aamir Khan, was sent to the PMO on the occasion of World TB Day on March 24. The burden of TB is so high that two Indians die every three minutes.

Moreover, 1 lakh TB patients in India suffer from drug-resistant forms such as multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR TB )and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB). As each TB patient can, in untreated, spread the disease to 15 other within a year, the TB epidemic is a virtual timebomb, say experts.

It is this backdrop that the letter seems to have broached the radical idea of testing every Indian TB patient for drug resistance at the beginning itself. At present, suspected patients have to go through a step-by-step diagnostic chain that can delay access to the right treatment by months; a TB patient typically begins with treatment for normal drug-susceptible TB and, if this treatment doesn't work within a month, he\she undergoes another test for drug-resistant form, and so on.

But testing patients right away for drug-resistant strains isn't easy: the tests are expensive and there aren't enough centres to test for them right away. The GeneXpert, which can diagnose MDR TB within two hours, costs thousands of rupees and is at present restricted to few urban centres.

The letter has also asked the Prime Minister to focus on better diagnostic facilities and nutritional support for TB patients.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=tuberculosis (TB) patients,Narendra Modi,drug-sensitivity

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