¼ th TB patients remain unscreened

KATHMANDU: Nepal is still unable to provide adequate health services to tuberculosis patients as around 25 per cent of the infected patients remain unscreened.

Dr Kashikant Jha, director, National TB Centre,

informed that there are 67,546 TB patients in Nepal at present.

The mortality rate of TB patients has gone down after the country started DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short-course) system for the treatment of TB patients, Jha said. Around 9,707 people lost their lives due to TB every year in the 1990s while the figure has come down to 6,437 now, he added.

“Each person with an active TB can infect 10 to 15 people a year on average” said the director.

The DOTS method of treatment was introduced in Nepal in 1996 and the service is available in all the health posts, sub-health posts and health centres throughout the country. In the current fiscal year 7,366 TB patients are undergoing treatment.

According to the centre, 35,512 patients were found to be TB infected in the last fiscal year and the treatment of 89 percent of the patients was successful.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) at least 2 billion people of the world’s total population are infected with TB.

Dr Sheel Kant Sharma, secretary general of SAARC said that TB is one of the major public health problems and accounts for second highest mortality rate for infectious diseases globally. South Asia has the largest proportion of TB cases globally. Around 2.6 million cases of TB exist in the region.

“Despite the grim scenario, South Asia has consistently shown its resilience in the fight against the dreaded disease” said Sharma adding that the region has met the global target of more than 85 per cent of treatment success rate since 2006.

The World TB day is marked globally on March 24 every year to raise public awareness, remove discrimination and enable greater community involvement in prevention and treatment of TB.

The day was marked today with the slogan ‘On the move against tuberculosis innovate to accelerate action’.

Dr Praveen Mishra, secretary of Ministry of Health and Population said that the tuberculosis programme is on the highest priority list of the government.