A daily drug regimen for tuberculosis patients will start from September in Maharashtra, replacing the three-times-a-week treatment schedule.
After a discussion held by national and state officials, Deputy Director General of Central TB Division Dr Sunil Khaparde said, "The daily drug regime will be rolled out in five states now, including Maharashtra, from September."
‘The government-funded daily drug regimen for tuberculosis patients provides drugs for HIV-TB, pediatric TB, and re-treatment cases.
Director of Indian Council of Medical Research Dr Soumya Swaminathan said, "We are beginning with these five states, the commitment is to the entire nation." She added that the protocol of the daily drug treatment had been released and the ministry was actively taking up the process of operationalising it.
The daily regime for HIV-TB patients will also be started across the country in July.
Speaking about pediatric TB and the steps to reduce it, Dr Swaminathan said, "One thing that we have done for pediatric TB is scaling up molecular diagnostics like GeneXpert. Started as a four-city project, it has now expanded to 30 cities. In all the cities where GeneXpert has been placed by the government, HIV-TB, pediatric TB and re-treatment cases have been prioritized. We find that there has been a jump in the bacteriological diagnosis of pediatric TB, and we are now diagnosing MDR-TB in children."
The rate of drug resistance in children is the same as in adults. Thus it is very important to diagnose and put children on an appropriate treatment path.
The drug formulation for MDR-TB is still an issue. Drug formulation for children under six years is still not there. "We are hoping that some company will come forward with a formulation," said Swaminathan.
Maharashtra ranks first with the highest tuberculosis cases in the country. A total of 1.3 lakh fresh cases of tuberculosis were recorded in the State last year. About 28,000 cases were recorded in Mumbai. Of these, 5,500 were cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, with Mumbai's share at a worrisome 3,600, said Dr. Sujata Saunik, principal secretary (health), Maharashtra government.