118 years of Trust M A I L B A G THE TRIBUNE
Wednesday, December 30, 1998
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TB comes with a vengeance

  THIS bears reference to the recent editorial on the emerging tuberculosis scenario in India. The concern expressed is most appropriate and timely. Along with Russia and East European countries India has emerged as “tuberculosis hot zone”. Each of these identified hot zones has multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) cases that threaten to derail the current TB control programme and spread the disease throughout the world.

“Among more than 900 million people in India every second adult is infected with TB bacterium. Each year more than two million people develop active tuberculosis and upto 500,000 die,” says a WHO report released in July, 1998.

The problems faced by the national TB control programme in India are multiple. The social stigma attached to this disease and the erratic supply of anti-TB drugs at public hospitals have contributed to the ever-increasing number of TB patients who drop out of treatment.

The WHO report estimates that at least two-third TB patients drop out early in India, often becoming chronic sufferers and a source of infection to others. Very often these chronic cases become a fertile ground for deadly drug resistant TB organisms.

The TB research and surveillance unit of WHO says that any individual who is sick with any strain of TB will infect 10-20 people each year. In Delhi alone 13 per cent of all TB patients are ill with MDR-TB. If the statistics from BIMARU and other states are added, the incidence of MDR-TB will rise much higher.

Tuberculosis was one of the greatest health challenges of the early 20th century. We cannot allow MDR-TB to become the biggest health threat of 21st century.


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US monopoly must end

The recent missile attack on Iraq by the USA and the UK clearly indicates that the so-called super power can strike anywhere at will, ignoring the world opinion. Earlier in August, the USA attacked Sudan and Afghanistan on the pretext that some terrorists were hiding there. Such attacks are likely to continue in future too because the USA is the only super power left now after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Nobody can expect justice from the UN as it has become ineffective due to the increased influence of the USA. Most of the members of this organisation are under the influence of the USA. Smaller nations cannot dare to raise their voice against America as they are getting huge financial assistance from that country. Thus, the UN has become a puppet in the hands of the USA.

Iraq has already received more punishment than it deserved. The continuous sanctions against Iraq for the past eight years have resulted in more than quarter-million deaths. In spite of the repeated efforts by Russia, India, China and some other countries, the UN has failed to lift the sanctions against Iraq. Personal enmity between the US President and Mr Saddam Hussein is causing great hardship to the Iraqi people.

It is high time all the OPEC nations united and imposed sanctions against the USA and the UK. India should take the initiative to call an emergency meeting of the non-aligned nations to defy the UN sanctions against Iraq and start trading with that country. India can supply medicines and foodgrains and in turn can get oil from Iraq.

One hopes that Russia, China and many other countries would also follow India in this pious task. Efforts should also be made to get the UN headquarters shifted from New York to some other country, failing which a parallel UN should be formed with the help of Asian and African countries.

Manjoo (Solan)

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Schools sans facilities

This refers to the report “Plan to revamp UT rural schools”. It was mentioned in the news-item that 22 government schools in the rural areas and colonies in and around Chandigarh will be revamped and the repair of 18 buildings would be completed by March-end. This is a welcome step.

These government schools definitely needed a heavy dose of development funds. Most of these schools are in very deplorable condition. The boundary walls in many cases have collapsed. Doors and windows have become unusable. Class-rooms are without windows and doors even in winter.

Most of the schools lack furniture. Students have to sit on the floor. There are no proper arrangements for drinking water. Urinals or toilets are in a pitiable condition, posing a serious risk to the health of the children.


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Medical problems

It is upsetting to learn about the moans of the medical profession regarding the governments efforts to regulate private health care. Quackery is the flavour of the day.

It is true that most doctors stop reading once they have passed their examinations and all efforts are directed to the acquisition of wealth. Barring a few honourable exceptions, all private practitioners are guilty of paying cuts and ordering investigations to increase their income.

There is dire need to regulate the health system in India, and for any physician to suggest otherwise goes directly against the very medical ethos which we swear to uphold.

Cleveland (Ohio)

(Received in response to the Internet edition.)


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