Times Of India
24 Nov 2012
A TB helpline will be launched in the city on December 1 to address queries about the disease and its treatment. People unable to afford the cost of a call will be able to avail the facility by simply giving a missed call to the helpline. The helpline would then contact them and address their queries and concerns on TB.
"It is estimated that 1.8 million new tuberculosis cases are reported every year in India. Every day more than 5,000 people develop TB and 1,000 die of it, the highest in the world. That translates to two deaths every three minutes. What is needed is proper knowledge about the disease and its treatment. That’s why we are starting the helpline," said Madhu Oswal, founder of Samvad HIV/AIDS helpline under the Muktaa Charitable Foundation.
Samvad HIV helpline was started in 2005. The helpline has dealt with over 1.1 lakh callers. It is operational in Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand and Ahmedabad.
"Like HIV, there is a lot of stigma, discrimination and fear about TB. Therefore, people do not get space to ask about the disease. So the Muktaa Charitable Foundation has decided to start a TB helpline, in addition to its HIV /AIDS and STD helplines. The TB helpline’s number would be 020–26381234, and people can call between 9.30am and 8.30pm," Oswal said.
"Tuberculosis is a treatable and preventable disease. The government has a very strong network of testing and treatment centres for TB. What is needed is a proper knowledge about the disease, how it spreads, myths and misconceptions, symptoms, and ways to protect oneself against TB, and the importance of undergoing complete treatment. We will also create awareness about services and facilities available under the Union government’s Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme," he added.
Every month, the city reports 300 to 350 new TB cases. "Now, with private hospitals also reporting TB cases, the figure stands at 400–450 cases every month," said N D Thakur, chief of the PMC’s tuberculosis control unit. Tuberculosis was made a notifiable disease earlier this year.
Launching of the helpline "is definitely a good initiative that will help create awareness among people about TB. Since the information is given over the phone, more and more people will come forward and the correct information will be disseminated," said S T Pardeshi, medical officer of health, Pune Municipal Corporation.
Surge in multi–drug resistant tuberculosis cases
As many as 255 cases of multi–drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR–TB) have been reported in the district in the last nine months at the referral laboratory of Aundh chest hospital that started functioning in February this year. The break up is: Pune rural 100; PMC 82 and PCMC 73.