Kathmandu, June 10
The Government of Nepal has not been able to implement its end tuberculosis strategy effectively.
The country had adopted the strategy in line with global commitments and plans to rid the country of the disease by 2035.
However, the increasing number of unreported TB cases, lack of funds for diagnosis and treatment, poor quality of medical equipment and scarcity of trained manpower have led to the government failing to meet the targets of the strategy, according to a survey report.
The National Tuberculosis Programme, as per its strategic plan for 2016-21, had set a target of 95 per cent reduction in the occurrence of tuberculosis and reduction in death rate by 90 per cent by 2035. The number of TB deaths was recorded at around 5,000 in 2015, according to National Tuberculosis Centre.
As many as 18 deaths are attributed to TB each day. A total of 123 new tuberculosis cases are reported on a daily basis. Some 34 cases of TB are not reported to hospitals. It is estimated that 44,000 new infections occur annually, while TB accounts for 5,000 to 7,000 deaths in a year across the country, according to NTC
Speaking at a programme organised by Joint External Monitoring Mission of Nepal National Tuberculosis Programme here today, Paul Nunn, the team leader of JEMM, said that it was difficult to bring down the number of tuberculosis patients to zero by 2035.
JEMM is clear that Nepal is not on the path to achieving the target. Preliminary results of the ongoing prevalence survey suggest that the burden of TB is greater than it was estimated.
A team of national and international experts led by Nunn had carried out a survey in provinces 2, 3, 5, Karnali Province and Far-west Province this year.
The survey has shown that the National Strategic Plan 2016-2021 has been not been implemented effectively due to lack of staffers and fund. The survey team said the programme became ineffective with the implementation of the federal structure.
According to the survey, some of the reasons for the ineffectiveness of the plan are outdated TB diagnosis process, lack of containers to transport lab samples securely and safely, and poor condition of GeneXpert machines.
“Due to poor financial condition and lack of hospitals in remote areas, many people in the country are still deprived of treatment,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health and Population Upendra Yadav.
TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the sustainable development goals.
A version of this article appears in print on June 11, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.