There has been a 30 per cent drop in the number of Tuberculosis (TB) cases being notified across Maharashtra in the last one year due to the ongoing pandemic. According to the data provided by the state health department, 2.27 lakh cases were notified in 2019 which declined to 1.60 lakh in 2020, moreover between January to April this year 56,000 cases have been notified. State health officials have attributed this drop to private hospitals, who failed to provide data of the TB cases. Most of the private hospitals were converted to Covid care due to which TB cases were left undiagnosed.
Around 20,000 new TB cases were recorded before the pandemic started in the city. It reduced to 9,000 between May and July. The numbers had again increased after lockdown relaxation -- 13,000 new cases were reported monthly, which further increased to 20,212 cases in December 2020. The numbers declined in the second wave. In January, 16,969 cases were notified in the state which dropped to 10,036 in April.
Dr Archana Patil, director, Family Welfare, Directorate of Health Services, Maharashtra, said in Maharashtra, TB notifications declined to 10,036 patients in April 2021, compared to an average monthly notification of 19,000 patients during pre-COVID times. They conducted a workshop in December last year where they had directed and trained all the staff to notify each TB patient to the state health department. “Taking cognizance of the impact of COVID-19 on TB services and declining notifications, we have developed and quickly deployed several innovative mitigation strategies to proactively ensure continuity of TB services. Interventions such as door-step delivery of drugs to existing patients, partnerships with private laboratories to support TB diagnosis and community-level engagement, were implemented. Important policies including bi-directional screening were rolled out to ensure every TB case is detected and notified,” she said.
Dr Adkekar, State TB Officer, Maharashtra said, “Maharashtra’s TB programme has been a front-runner in implementing innovative strategies to control and end TB. Our experience with private sector engagement, community engagement and awareness generation hold us in good stead, as we jointly tackle both TB and COVID-19. We are confident that we will soon bring the programme back to pre-COVID levels and ensure we achieve our goal of a TB-free Maharashtra by 2025.”
The state government took measures like regular monitoring and supervision at different levels of governance (from state to sub-district), door-step delivery of drugs to patients, involvement of the private health sector to provide TB care and active case finding (ACF) drives. The ACF drive in December 2020, saw over 8 crore people being screened, 3.33 lakh presumptive TB cases being identified, and over 12,823 patients being diagnosed for TB till January 2021. Furthermore, community engagement efforts saw the establishment of District TB Forums in all districts to relay community and patient perspectives to the TB program.