NTC to establish more tuberculosis reference laboratories across country

Kathmandu, January 10

National Tuberculosis Centre is set to establish three reference laboratories in Surkhet, Pokhara and Dharan within this fiscal year. It has also planned to establish three other reference laboratories in Dhangadi, Butwal and Janakpur or Birgunj by 2021-end.

“Reference laboratories will be helpful in diagnosing multi-drug tuberculosis resistance. They will be used to diagnose tuberculosis cases from across the country,” said Dr Sagar Kumar Rajbhandari, director at National Tuberculosis Centre, adding, “These laboratories will be equipped with advanced technology, which will be helpful to diagnose complex cases of tuberculosis.”

To help reduce the number of multi-drug resistance tuberculosis, the centre has also begun distribution of medicines of multi-drug resistance tuberculosis recently from local health centres.

“We have decided to provide medicines to the patients from health centres in their locality. It will lessen financial burden of the patients and will help to save their time to visit hospitals daily,” said Rajbhandari.

Earlier the government used to provide the medicines only from the district hospitals and other well equipped hospitals.

There are 21 multi-drug resistance tuberculosis centres and 86 sub-centres across the country.

The programme will also be extended to Bardiya, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi and in other districts according to the centre. “It is estimated that there are 1,500 MDR-TB cases in the country. From among 1,500 patients only 600 are receiving treatment,” said Dr Rajbhandari.

Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is a form of tuberculosis infection caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB medications.

According to World Health Organisation, inappropriate or incorrect use of antimicrobial drugs, or ineffective formulations of drugs (such as use of single drugs, poor quality medicines or bad storage conditions), and premature treatment interruption can cause drug resistance, which can then be transmitted, especially in crowded settings such as prisons and hospitals.

It is estimated that some 45,000 new cases of tuberculosis are added each year. As per National Tuberculosis Centre, an estimated 32,000 cases have been registered under National Tuberculosis Programme, each year.

TB is caused by bacteria — mycobacterium tuberculosis that most often affects the lungs. TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.