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Four Telangana districts in race to attain TB-Free status

Hyderabad: Despite challenges in extending non-Covid healthcare services during the pandemic, Telangana has continued to make significant strides towards the target of achieving ‘TB-Free’ status. As part of these efforts, for the first time, four districts in Telangana — Nizamabad, Kamareddy, Khammam and Bhadrachalam are in the race to be declared as ‘TB Free’ by the Ministry of Health, Medical and Family Welfare (MOHFW).

Achieving ‘TB-Free’ status is no mean feat, as it involves being able to meet a set of predetermined milestones set by the MOHFW. A major criterion for achieving the status for a district or a State is to ensure 80 per cent reduction in TB cases.

State TB authorities have said that all four districts have achieved 80 per cent reduction in TB incidence. “Bhadrachalam district is borderline 80 per cent while the rest of the three districts have managed to achieve more than 80 per cent reduction in TB cases in the last few years. We are sure of getting TB free status for these districts in the coming weeks,” said Joint Director (TB), Dr A Rajesham.

A high-level team of experts from MOHFW had visited the four districts on Thursday and Friday to make an independent assessment on the incidence of TB and interact with the field-level healthcare workers and patients who have recovered.

Given the challenges including the Covid lockdown, it was not easy to reduce the incidence of TB by 80 per cent. “The reduction of TB cases did not happen overnight and it took us over five years to reduce the incidence. We focused a lot to gradually strengthen our grassroots network of healthcare workers and their ability to quickly identify and provide treatment to TB patients,” said Dr Rajesham.

The ambitious call to eradicate TB by 2025, five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals, was first given by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

As part of this initiative, the MOHFW launched the ‘TB Free’ status initiative and to motivate, incentives and rewards to performing districts and States were announced.

A district that manages to reduce TB incidence by at least 80 per cent will be announced as a ‘TB Free District’ along with a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh.

A State that manages to reduce incidence by 80 per cent will receive a cash prize of Rs 1 crore along with certification and felicitation at a national level programme. “We are sure to get the TB Free status for the first four districts. In the coming months, more districts will be added to the TB free list,” Dr Rajesham added.