Medical doctors might face jail if did not notify TB instances

CHENNAI: Doctors, , and can be sent to jail for up to two years if they fail to notify cases of tuberculosis the local public health authority.
A notification by the ministry of health and family welfare, dated March 16 and published in the , makes it mandatory for healthcare providers and clinical establishments to notify every patient to the local public health authority such as district health officer, chief medical officer of district municipal health officer of urban local bodies in specified formats.

Pharmacists dispensing anti-TB drugs should notify TB patients along with details of medicines in a specified format, maintain a copy of the prescription along with details of the treating doctor and furnish the same either electronically or in hard copy to the nodal officer.

“The clinical establishment, pharmacy, chemist and druggist, failing to notify a tuberculosis patient to the nodal officer…not taking appropriate public health action on receiving tuberculosis patient …, may attract the provisions of sections 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), as the case may be,” the notification said.

India accounts for about a quarter of the global TB burden. The country has the highest burden of both TB and drug resistant TB. In March 2017, the Centre announced that it would eliminate TB by 2025. There are an estimated 79,000 multi-drug resistant TB patients among the notified cases of pulmonary TB each year. In 2016, an estimated 28 lakh cases occurred and 4.5 lakh people died due to the disease.

Studies have repeatedly shown that one of the hindrances to elimination of TB is that more than million cases go missing every year. These people are not notified either because they remain undiagnosed or under treated.

The ministry has issued reporting formats as Annexure I and Annexure II for medical laboratories and medical practitioners respectively. Patients are also encouraged to self-notify themselves with their own details and that of treating medical practitioners.

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