Rescue of tuberculosis is up-to 70 times greater in prisons: A Study

Apr 02, 2015 17:34 | Feature & Viewpoint
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Workshop on TB in Dharamsala prison

Dharamsala (Arvind Sharma )

The ancient scourge, tuberculosis, which has been found in 2,000-year-old mummies, remains a global health threat despite modern medicine. In fact, TB is the leading infectious disease killer in the world. 

”The studies show that burden of this killer disease is up-to 70 times greater in prisons than in communities. The demographics of the prison population (low socioeconomic status, large number of migrants, homeless, drug use), in addition to the situational and environmental vulnerabilities of the prison setting (e.g. overcrowding, poor ventilation) increases the risk of contracting tuberculosis (TB) among prisoners,” said Sh Balbir Thakur SDM Dharamshala on Thursday . Thakur was presiding over a  workshop which was conducted by TB Department of Himachal Pradesh Health services, with prison inmates at Dharamshala Jail on the issue of Tuberculosis. There are around 300 prisoners in this jail.

Dr RK Sood District TB officer stated on the occasion that the TB bacteria acquired resistance to many drugs, spreading rapidly among homeless people, AIDS patients, and other vulnerable groups.

He said , “ lifestyle choices are important to ensure that latent TB infection does not convert into active disease. Smoking substantially increases the risk of tuberculosis (TB) and death from TB- up to three times more likely to develop TB infection than non-smokers. “ Dr.Sood  said that up to one in every five deaths from TB could be avoided if the individuals did not smoke. Smoking Tobacco Doubles Risk of Recurrent Tuberculosis. Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risks of both TB infection and development of active TB disease among children and adults.  Dr Sanjay Bhardwaj SMO Jail added that there no need for isolation of patient on treatment, as he becomes non infectious after starting medicine.

Superintendent Jail Sh Sushil Thakur stated that the jail has DOTS centre and is implementing measures for TB screening of vulnerable population. He stressed on exercise and Yoga for effective immunity. Effective TB control in prison protects prisoners, staff, visitors and the community at large.

 “Nearly 200,000 tuberculosis (TB) patients have been cured in the past 18 years  in Himachal and still more have to be treated to completely eradicate the disease from the state ,”An official of the Health department of  Himachal Pradesh said here .

He said these patients have been treated under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), which is no less than an achievement.  He said that the need of the hour was to create awareness to reduce the stigma associated with the disease so that people come forward for self-diagnosis.

"It's a collective responsibility of all of us to make the people realise the purpose of the national disease control efforts so that we all contribute to the comprehensive TB control programme and eliminate the disease from the country," he added.

Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Kaul Singh said recently that the government was committed to open DOTS centre in every block of the state. He said each TB patient would be screened for diabetes also.

"I personally feel that nutritional support be provided to MDR (multi-drug resistant) patient through public distribution fair price shops," he added. Nutritional needs of patients suffering from multi drug resistance (MDR) and HDR tuberculosis would be taken care of and adequate steps are being taken by the state government in this direction. Treatment centers for MDR have been established in TB sanitarium, Dharampur and Dr RPGMC, Tanda while another such centre will soon be opened at Indira Gandhi Medical College this year.

Surveys by the union health ministry say national TB prevalence is about 168 cases per 100,000 Indians.