Mumbai:18 people die of TB everyday in the city!

Jul 13, 2017, 13:02 IST | mid-day online correspondent

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In a shocking revelation by an NGO Praja, 18 Mumbaikars die of Tuberculosis everyday. This statistic not only sheds light on the apathy of government agencies working to rid the city of this deadly disease.

In a report by the Times of India, the agency found that the number of Mumbaikars dropping out of rigourous TB treatment has increased from 9% to 19% between 2012 to 2016-17. But it seems that the government officials differ from the findings. In a statement to TOI, a Dr Daksha Shah, a civic TB officer said, "A health programme cannot be analysed based on some data randomly gathered using RTI." While this may seem like a valid explanation, the BMC’s public health department had actually asked Praja to analyse the data they had with Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) officials.

A Praja official, Milind Mhaske said, "There is clearly something wrong with BMC's TB control programme. There has been a sharp drop in the number of people signing up with the RNTCP for treatment. This shows people prefer to go to the private sector for treatment. Moreover, the drop-out rate in the government programme has increased from 9% in 2012 to 19% in 2016." Praja releases a health report every year. It gathers its information from the BMC’s health department with the help of RTI. Praja also does an analysis of the number of people dead by analyzing the death certificates from the BMC. But the BMC alleges that these certificates are not scientifically filled out and therefore are not accurate indicators of the death toll in the city.

As per TOI, Mhaske said at a press conference, "Mumbai's health budget for 2017-18 was Rs 3,312 crore. This is only marginally lower than the entire budget for Thane Municipal Corporation (Rs 3,390 crore). Yet, there is a lot more that needs to be done." The BMC says that the data Praja has used to present its conclusion was ‘unscientefically’ put together. They alleged the Praja asked for ‘new registrations’ in 2016, in response a BMC official said, "We replied that new registrations are 15,767. Now, TB treatment stretches from six months to three years, leading to some patients continuing treatment for years." They alleged that Praja should have asked for the total number of patients under treatment in that particular year. BMC alleged that there might have been a lot of duplication of data by Praja as they also collected data from dispensaries and hospitals as well.

Dr Shah said, "Around 30% of the defaulters' list is made up of migrants who return home as soon as they feel better. The second major group is alcoholics."

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