A latest report by Government of India on State-wise health indicators has painted a grim picture about progress made towards eradication of Tuberculosis (TB) in J&K, revealing that treatment success rate has fallen in the state in recent years.
The NITI Aayog’s report, “Healthy States Progressive India” has shown decline in the treatment success rate of new microbiologically confirmed cases in 2016, the reference year, in comparison to 2015, the base year.
While the treatment rate was 88.3% in the base year, it fell to 85% in the reference year. The Government of India has set a target of =85% success rate for TB treatment.
An official at Revised National Tuberculosis Program (RNTCP) said the treatment success rate was deducted by recording a new patient, putting him/her on treatment, completion of treatment, declaring the patient treated and recording it onto the database of Nikshay – an online monitoring system and database for TB control program.
Since TB is a notifiable disease all patients need to be notified and recorded into the database.
However, low notification of cases, especially from private sector, has been a concern vis-à-vis the program across India, including J&K.
In terms of TB notification, J&K has shown marginal improvement. While in base year (2016), TB notification was recorded at 72 (per 100,000 population), in 2017, the reference year, an improvement of just two points was recorded and the figure stood at 74.
Low notification of tuberculosis reflects on the treatment compliance and goal of TB eradication, as per RNTCP.
However, officials working with State’s TB Control programme challenged the findings, terming the figures as ‘flawed data’.
Dr Syed Tasneem, WHO consultant for TB control program in J&K said the State was “progressing well” on all fronts regarding TB control.
“It is just that some districts have not entered requisite data diligently on Nikshay database and that has resulted in these figures (in the Union government report),” she said.
She added that the treatment success rate of TB in J&K was around 90 percent, above the RNTCP benchmark.
Regarding marginal improvement on parameter of TB notification, she said, “In public sector, we are seeing better progress and more and more hospitals, even from far flung areas are regularly updating the TB data, including new patients.”
However, she said it was the private sector where the notification of the disease was a concern. “We are far behind the targets of TB notification in the private sector,” she said.
Epidemiologist and State Tuberculosis Officer with Directorate of Health Services (Kashmir), Dr Rehana Kaunsar also contradicted the Government of India findings.
“We have a treatment success rate of nearly 100 percent,” she said while adding that two aspirational districts, Baramulla and Kupwara, were having “exceptional progress” in terms of TB control.
As per the Government of India data, between 2014 and 2016, over 30,000 new cases of TB were notified in J&K.