There is some good news amidst the pandemic. The number of patients diagnosed with tuberculosis has come down by 29 per cent in the past one year in Mumbai. And, there has been a 23 percent drop in multidrug resistance TB last year compared to 2019.
According to the data analysed by the Free Press Journal on the eve of World TB day, around 60,597 citizens were diagnosed with TB in 2019, which further dropped to 43,464 in 2020. Similarly, multi-drug resistance TB also dropped to 4,367 cases from 5,673 cases during the same period. Health experts said the numbers have dropped as most of the patients did not step out due to nationwide lockdown and many patients were left undiagnosed. However, civic officials have claimed that the turnout of patients has increased after the lockdown was relaxed.
“Detection dropped after the COVID-19 outbreak to some extent. However, Mumbai District TB Control Society was able to diagnose around 43,464 cases despite the lockdown because of special initiatives like tele-consultation, repeated follow-ups telephonically by the NTEP staff, active case finding drive in the month of December 2020. 505 cases were detected. Medicines were delivered at home and one month of medicine was issued to each and every patient,” said a health official.
Dr Pranita Tipre, deputy health officer, TB, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said initially, when the COVID-19 cases were high, there was a drop in TB cases, as many did not step out. However, after the restrictions were relaxed, a surge in TB cases was seen. “More than 5,000 cases are being diagnosed in a month since the lockdown has been relaxed. Patients are now visiting the TB hospitals to get themselves checked,” she said.
Doctors, however, said TB cases have declined due to the social distancing norms. Activists believe that the inaccessibility of drugs and lack of transportation to reach the hospital prevents many patients from following up with their treatment. They said irregular treatment can lead to a spike in TB cases post the pandemic. “Patients with drug-resistant TB suffer the most. These patients need to take injections regularly. Sometimes, either the drugs aren’t available or medicos aren’t available to administer it,” said Ganesh Acharya, a TB activist.