Health department fails to release outcome of first Tuberculosis prevalence survey

Health department fails to release outcome of first Tuberculosis prevalence survey
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GoI highlights alarming TB situation, reporting nearly 40,000 cases in 4 years

Srinagar: The Health Department has failed to release the outcome of its first-ever Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey in Kashmir, even though four months have passed since the field study concluded.
State Tuberculosis Officer Showkat Ahmad Laloo told Kashmir Reader that he was unaware of the results as the epidemiologists of the Health Department were yet to complete the survey.
“I am not fully aware of the results as I was only supervising the survey. Epidemiologists of the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir, are yet to compile the figures. They were handling the main affairs,” he said.
The results of the Tuberculosis survey, which covered nearly 50,000 people in nearly 65 health blocks of the Valley, were important to recognise ways for improving tuberculosis control and ultimately to end the TB epidemic in J&K.
As per the latest data from the Ministry, nearly 40,000 patients have tested positive for the disease in the last four years.
“Out of 39,968 patients who tested positive for TB in J&K, 37,873 have reported to government-run hospitals while 2,095 were treated in private healthcare facilities since January 2014,” the report said.
The J&K Government figures also presented an alarming frequency of TB in the state.
“Around 799 people have died of tuberculosis (TB) since 2014 in J&K, making it the biggest killer disease in the state,” revealed the Health Department in the Assembly early this year.
The prevalence survey was initiated in June to identify confirmed tuberculosis cases across the Valley under the latest Strategic Plan 2017-2025 for TB Elimination.
The baseline assessment has been conducted in all major districts of Kashmir with a statistical representation of Kashmir Division.
The Health Department had invested a huge amount of funds and human resources involving top organisations and the Ministry of Health, GoI.
The door-to-door survey which concluded in September was conducted by epidemiologists, health officials, Asha workers and other volunteers.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also collaborated with the Department to complete the survey and make it authentic.
However, the release of the report has been deferred despite the high prevalence of the disease in J&K, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (GoI).
The Health Department has long been running its tuberculosis control programme, with a cure rate of 95 percent.
However, the Department has not been able to decide the exact prevalence of the disease and its case reduction.
“The reason is the programme has used an obsolete Government of India survey done in 1957 as a reference study to treat and study TB patients across India,” officials told Kashmir Reader.
Director Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman said it would take six months more to complete the survey results because it was the mandate of the department.
“We are working on the survey as per our availability because it is not our main work. The outcome of the survey is also getting delayed because we have changed its methodology as per the assessment of the national experts,” he said.