Srinagar: The J&K Health Department has started its first-ever survey to know the prevalence of Tuberculosis in Kashmir. Until now, the department had been using data from a survey done in 1957 by the Government of India.
According to officials of the health department, the fresh survey which is to be completed by end of this year will identify the prevalence of confirmed tuberculosis cases across the Valley. The survey will also help in recognising ways to improve tuberculosis control and ultimately end the incidence of TB in J&K.
“The health department has been running a Tuberculosis control programme for long, with a cure rate of 95 percent. However, we were not able to determine the exact prevalence of the disease and its reduction. The reason was that the programme had been using an obsolete survey done by the Government of India in 1957, as a reference study to treat and study TB patients,” Director Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman told Kashmir Reader.
“The fresh study will target nearly 50,000 adult persons in Kashmir Division through a household survey by epidemiologists, district officials, and health workers,” he said.
The survey is to be conducted in all major areas of Kashmir and to provide a statistically representative sample of the whole Division,” Dr Saleem said.
In addition, the director said, the TB prevalence survey is the best method to find the disease’s incidence in the region and its resistance to drugs.
“It will help the government to make a treatment plan and policy to end the epidemic, and to allocate necessary funds and resources,” he said.
The fresh study has followed World Health Organisation guidelines to survey selected areas and people.
“People suspected of having TB will be interviewed by way of a detailed questionnaire. Doctors will have their sputum samples examined and have X-rays done immediately. Following the test, the results will be recorded,” said a Public Health Worker who is part of the survey.
The JK health ministry will work in collaboration with other partners like Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the International Union of Tuberculosis to conduct the Valley-wide survey.
“It will also make the survey authentic and acceptable,” said a senior health official.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described drug-resistant TB as a major global threat. The lung disease spreads through coughs and sneezes. India is estimated to have the largest number of such drug-resistant TB cases after China.
In J&K, 799 people have died due to Tuberculosis since 2014 – making it the biggest killer disease in the state.
“Since 2014, 28,684 cases of TB have been detected in the state and the disease has killed 799 people,” the Minister of Health and Medical Education had revealed in the winter session of the state assembly.
“The highest number of TB deaths was reported in 2014, when 290 people died, while in 2015 and 2016 the death toll from TB was 279 and 230, respectively,” the minister had informed.
“The highest number of TB deaths in Jammu region was reported from Udhampur and Kathua districts, where 157 people each died since 2014,” the minister said.
Srinagar was in the third place among such districts, with 91 TB deaths. North Kashmir’s Baramulla district was fourth in the list with 78 deaths, while 66 deaths were reported from the state’s most populous district, Jammu.
With 6 and 16 deaths, respectively, Kargil and Leh districts were at the bottom of the list.
The minister’s reply further stated that a total of 28,684 cases of TB were detected in Jammu and Kashmir since 2014.