Preventive medication will help the states in achieving TB-FREE status by 2025, a deadline set by the Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi Ji. Union Joint Secretary of health Sri. Vikas Sheel said, “the ministry will roll out incentives for the state and districts to achieve this goal. If a district brings down the incidence by 20% they will be given bronze medal along with cash and other incentives. Additional 20% will fetch silver. When they achieve a target of 60% they will be given a gold medal and those who achieve 80% will be declared TB-FREE”. He also said, “similar programmes will be run for malaria, leprosy and blindness”.

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) A NOTE:  A potentially serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs. The bacteria that cause TB are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Most people infected with the bacteria that cause tuberculosis don’t have symptoms. When symptoms do occur, it usually would include a cough (sometimes blood tinged), weight loss, night sweats and fever. Treatment isn’t always required for those without symptoms. Patients with active symptoms will require a long course of treatment involving multiple antibiotics.

This is common in India, with more than 1 million cases per year. TB is partly preventable by vaccine. Treatable by a medical professional. TB spreads easily. Requires a medical diagnosis, lab tests or imaging always. Medium-term required to resolve within months. This spreads by airborne respiratory droplets (coughs or sneezes) and by saliva.

People may experience pain in the chest, which can occur while breathing. Coughing can be chronic or with blood. The bodily symptoms are fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, malaise, night sweats or sweating. Needed antibiotics for treatment.

The Director of Public Health, Dr. K. Kozhandhaisamy, on the side-lines of a Scientific conference on TB, on Saturday said, “From January 2019, school students in Thiruvannamalai District, will receive a small injectable dose of purified protein derivative (PPD) in an attempt to detect, treat and prevent tuberculosis among children and young adults. Soon it will be extended to students across the state and to household contacts of all TB patients. After few days of administering the PPD injection, health workers will check the children for reaction to the shots. Those with reactions will be taken up for a TB TEST as they may have been infected by the bacteria. Students testing positive will be started with on a cocktail or mixture of anti-TB drugs. Those testing negative still will have lament TB bacteria which can manifest itself as a disease anytime. These students will be given 12 doses of preventive medicines for three months”.

He continued,” As the testing involves injection of protein under the skin, doctors, health workers will be counselled on how they should handle children and counsel teachers and their parents. Senior doctors involved in TB Control Programme have been working on the drug regimens for several months. He further added that the project will slowly be extended to all schools in the state. A team of experts which made a presentation at the Conference, reiterated that, extending the project to household contacts of TB patients will also bring down the burden of the disease. After the initial round, by then, we will have to train more staff and have adequate infrastructure including testing materials”.

Prior to all this, WHO Deputy Director General, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said, “attempts should be made for early detention of paediatric tuberculosis. The prevalence of tuberculosis in children is about 8%-15% but only 3% are detected. The gap is huge. This goes to show our household contact screening is poor. One of the biggest challenges in detecting TB among children is doing the SPUTUM TEST”.

“Unlike in adults, we won’t be able to take out sputum in children easily but we are working on methods to beat these challenges” said Central TB Division Deputy Director Dr. Kuldeep Singh Sachdeva”.

It is a welcome move by the Health Departments both at State and Centre, to start working from the rock bottom level, for prevention and eradication of TB from schools, children and the respective affected families in TAMIL NADU, starting from Thiruvannamalai, in January 2019. Hope this project would get all the support staff including doctors, create awareness, enough testing facilities, counselling for the students testing positive and to the parents to overcome the initial fear, scare and take the treatment as prescribed.