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Posted at: Jan 14, 2016, 12:47 AM; last updated: Jan 14, 2016, 12:24 AM (IST)

Now, TB counselling a missed call away

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 13

Starting Friday, tuberculosis counselling will be only a missed call away for lakhs of patients currently unable to report their illness for a range of reasons.

As soon as a patient calls on a toll-free number, a trained TB counsellor would call him back to answer queries from information on treatment to the location of nearby healthcare delivery centres.

The new anti-TB initiative, “Missed Call Campaign”, will be rolled out as a pilot project first from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi. “Gradually, the campaign will become national,” Dr SD Khaparde, Deputy Director General, TB Division, Health Ministry told The Tribune today.

Though the government offers free treatment through DOTS (directly observed treatment short course) centres across India, most patients go to the private sector, which has been chiefly blamed for poor treatment follow-ups leading to multi drug-resistant TB. India has the second highest burden in this category in the world. Government studies show up to 46 per cent of TB infections may currently not be reported.

The government made TB a notifiable disease in May 2012 mandating every private doctor to report each case, but the implementation of the policy is weak.

“Just a fraction of TB cases in private sector are being reported to the government. The new campaign will help patients know that free treatment and regular follow-up plans are available in public institutions,” said a ministry official.

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