Search for patients: TB to become first notifiable disease in K-P

PESHAWAR: Tuberculosis (TB) is likely to become Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s first notifiable disease as the provincial health ministry has prepared to legislate for it, officials privy to the developments informed The Express Tribune on Friday. This means that it is required by law to be reported to the government as the information will allow them to monitor the disease and provide early signs of an outbreak.

According to officials, a draft is being processed at the provincial law department and matters will be finalised in the next eight to 10 days after which the disease will be declared notifiable, that is required by law to be reported to government authorities.

Need for the undertaking

Senior health officials said around 43,383 cases of TB were reported in 2015 alone, however people were reluctant to register.

“Since TB has not been declared notifiable until now, doctors treating patients with this disease are not bound to report cases to us,” a senior health official told The Express Tribune.

He added once the notification was issued, doctors will be obliged to register patients and in cases where they fail to comply, action will be taken against them. “A penalty can also be imposed by the health ministry,” he said.

The official said TB Control Programme which has been operating by the provincial government since 2002 provides free treatment including medicines to patients.

“We want to find TB patients and provide them with free treatment,” he said. The official added when people go to private doctors, they pay consultancy fee as well as pay for medicines that are purchased from the open market.

“The provincial government has spent a large sum of money on the programme that is running for such patients and if they make use of the platform, their burden will be reduced,” the official added.

He also said once TB became a notifiable disease, counter sale of medicines for treating it will also be banned. “When we are offering free medicines, there is no need for its sale in the open market for which people have to pay,” the senior official said.

The trend

TB Control Programme Manager Dr Obaid could not be reached for comments, however, another official from the same programme Dr Dost said 0.4million patients with sensitive TB have been treated since 2002. He added six to eight months were needed to treat a patient.

“A patient can recover in eight months but negligence can not only prolong the treatment but also its cost,” he said, adding, medical care for a patient with Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR) TB costs around Rs1million.

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