In spite of an order by the centre making it mandatory for all private doctors to submit information on TB patients treated by them, of the 22,000 registered practitioners across the state only half have complied.
State health department officials said that the private practitioners do not share the information, as they don’t want to lose out on their earnings. “The government has a programme in place where TB patients are treated free of cost. But, some private practitioners don’t want their patients to learn of this. They treat TB-diagnosed patients till they can afford treatment and when they are unable or have difficulty in shelling out money for the doses, they either stop treatment or refer them to us [government centres],” said a state health department official, on condition of anonymity.
“In a recent incident, nine patients were detected with MDR-TB from one area near Pune who were being treated by a private practitioner. But, after some time, they defaulted on their treatment, and are now seeking medication from the government,” said the official. Another official from the state health department claimed that most defaulters who don’t take regular treatment or stop medication without consultation are patients of private practitioners.
“We are approaching private practitioners and repeatedly telling them to provide all data related to TB patients. We are also conveying to them that there is no need to transfer all their patients, but they should inform the government. Till date, only 50 per cent of private practitioners are providing data by submitting the annexure-1 form. We don’t want to snatch all patients from private practitioners, but we want to ensure that each TB patient gets complete treatment,” said Shobha Rajure, district TB officer.
The city-TB office had similar tale to share, stating that only 1,100 private practitioners from the city have filled annexure-1. Dr N D Thakur, city-TB officer, PMC, said, “Around 50 per cent of private practitioners have shared the data with us. They don’t want to share the information, as they feel that it will hamper their business.”
While some health officials opine that doctors are not disclosing information on TB patients, on the other hand, Dr H H Chavan, assistant director (TB), state health department, said “As per the information, there are around 40,000 private practitioners in the state and about 22,000 have shared and are sharing information about the TB patients with the state officials. Maharashtra is leading in comparison with other states in sharing information about TB patients.”