18 Mumbaikars die of TB every day, says study by NGO
NGO Praja brings out a health report every year, analyzing data gathered from BMC’s health department using RTI
Civic officials dismissing NGO’s claims said, “A health programme cannot be analysed based on randomly gathered data using RTI.”
MUMBAI: Not only do 18 Mumbaikars die of tuberculosis (TB) every day, the number of Mumbaikars dropping out of rigorous TB treatment increased from 9% in 2012 to 19% in 2016-17, said new data released by NGO Praja on Wednesday.
However, civic officials dismissed the NGO’s analysis. “A health programme cannot be analysed based on some data randomly gathered using RTI,” said civic TB officer Dr Daksha Shah.
In fact, the BMC public health department had, in its RTI reply, asked Praja to analyse the data with Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) officials.
Praja officials were adamant. “There is clearly something wrong with BMC’s TB control programme,” said Praja’s Milind Mhaske. “There has been a sharp drop in the number of people signing up with the RNTCP for treatment. This shows people prefer to go to the private sector for treatment. Moreover, the drop-out rate in the government programme has increased from 9% in 2012 to 19% in 2016,” he added.
Praja brings out a health report every year, analyzing data gathered from BMC’s health department using RTI. It uses information mentioned in death certificates to calculate the toll due to various diseases – a step the BMC has been opposed to because its officials say death certificates are not scientifically filled out (BMC is in the process of conducting educational programmes for doctors on how to fill a death certificate in accordance with World Health Organisation norms).
At a press conference held on Wednesday, Mhaske said, “Mumbai’s health budget for 2017-18 was Rs 3,312 crore. This is only marginally lower than the entire budget for Thane Municipal Corporation (Rs 3,390 crore). Yet, there is a lot more that needs to be done.”
BMC officials said the data was “unscientifically” put together. A senior BMC official on Wednesday said Praja sought data about “new registrations” in 2016 from the BMC. “We replied that new registrations are 15,767. Now, TB treatment stretches from six months to three years, leading to some patients continuing treatment for years,” said the official. Praja should have ideally asked for the total number of patients under treatment in a particular year. Dr Shah added Praja data possibly has a lot of duplication as it had collated data from dispensaries, hospitals as well as the public health department.
She added the BMC had done an analysis of the number of defaulters. “Around 30% of the defaulters’ list is made up of migrants who return home as soon as they feel better. The second major group is alcoholics,” said Dr Shah.