HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The tuberculosis screening initiative, launched on March 25, is all set to expand to carpet factories in Central Tarai. Vans will start TB screening in Bara, Parsa, Chitwan and Hetauda districts by the third week of May. “Currently, we are performing TB tests on workers in handicraft industries in the capital city. The screening in these industries will continue till the next week,” informed Prabin Shrestha, programmer and research officer at the Health Research and Social Development Forum. The government had introduced mobile TB screening facilities with the objective of reaching to the unreached people on the World Tuberculosis Day this year.
The forum has two vans for door-to-door TB screening in different parts of the country for which National Tuberculosis Centre has been providing technical support. Mahesh Kumar Puri, the forum’s project coordinator, said they have detected a number of positive cases during screening.
He added, “After detecting positive cases, we refer patients to nearest DOTS centres where the government provides free treatment.”
In the Kathmandu Valley, the forum conducted TB screening in various monasteries covering 1,272 people. Of these people, 329 underwent sputum test and 10 tested positive.
The initiative also covered Nepalgunj jail and Hetauda jail, detecting three positive cases. In various jails of the valley save Nakkhu jail, it found 12 positive cases. It screened 27,910 slum dwellers living in the Kathmandu Valley, Kapilvastu, Bhairahawa, Pokhara, Nepalgunj, Banke, Bardiya and Dang. Of them, 1,177 underwent sputum and 37 tested positive.
One person tested positive in the screening conducted in Devghat of Chitwan. The screening also covered 263 HIV patients in the valley. Of the 113 patients who underwent sputum test, 14 tested positive.
Of 263 family members of these patients, who opted for screening, 20 tested positive. In the valley, the initiative covered 3,125 brick kiln workers. Of the 419 symptomatic cases, 361 underwent sputum test and three tested positive.
Puri said, “We have only two vans and the area we need to cover is quite large. If we get more vans, we will be able to detect more cases.”
The screening vans are supposed to cover 29 municipalities and 22 districts, including Kathmandu, Nepalgunj, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Hetauda, Kailali, Kaski, Bara, Parsa, Janakpur, Rautahat, Chitwan and Rupandehi. The targeted populations are slum dwellers, prisoners, factory workers, mobile population, people living with HIV and family members of TB patients. The vans have special TB testing machine called GeneXpert, senior lab technicians and a medical doctor.
The vans are meant to bring forth unreported cases. According to the National Tuberculosis Centre, around 10,000 cases are ‘missing’ annually. Reaching this target requires all patients, including the missing cases, early and get them fully treated. In the fiscal year 2012-13, 35,438 patients were registered and put under treatment with DOTS (directly observed treatment short course). Of them, 15,099 patients were diagnosed as new sputum-smear positive. Treatment success rate among patients treated in the fiscal year 2011-12 was 90 per cent, five per cent higher than the World Health Organisation’s global target.