Newly-renovated TB hospital in Guwahati to become operational soon
After lying in shambles for more than a decade now, the renovation work of the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Tuberculosis (TB) hospital in Kalapahar is finally on the verge of completion. In a relief to TB patients in the state, the new hospital would become functional soon, according to authorities.
Inaugurated in 1954, the hospital was the first-of-its-kind facility in the state. However, it remained in a dilapidated condition over the years with improper services for the patients and poor infrastructural facilities. To add to this, the hospital was also reeling under shortage of manpower and was in a dire need of a facelift.
Hospital authorities had raised the matter with the state government in 2012, after seeing the woes of the patients and the pathetic state of the hospital.
Dr N J Das, state TB officer who was also the superintendent of the hospital at the time, approached senior officials with the request of construction of a state-of-the-art hospital for TB in place of the existing one.
He had also submitted a detailed plan with suggestions to the state government for the renovation of the hospital. Following this, the central ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), sanctioned Rs 52 crores in September 2012 for the construction of the new hospital.
Currently, the construction is ongoing and the renovated TB hospital will soon become functional.
“Once completed, it will provide a lot of benefit to the people living with TB in Assam and the entire northeast region,” said Das.
The new hospital will have 200 beds and will be equipped with all modern facilities including CT scan, a full-fledged laboratory, CBNAAT machines, and conference hall for training, X-ray and ultrasound facilities, informed authorities.
TB is an infectious disease which is caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs. It can, however, affect the brain and the spine too. Some of the common symptoms of the disease include chronic cough, blood-containing sputum, night sweats, fever and weight loss.
1224 TB patients living in Kamrup (M)
As per the official figures, there are 1224 TB patients living in Kamrup (Metro) district and 39,109 in Assam.
Assam was the first state in the country as well as in Asia in the public health sector to introduce the Bedaquiline (BDQ) drug in 2016. This drug, also popularly known as the ‘miracle’ drug, was released to combat multi drug resistant (MDR) TB which does not respond to two powerful anti-TB drugs.
Further, three TB patients in Kamrup (Metro) and 51 in the state have benefitted till now from the BDQ drug.
Additionally in 2017, as many as 6,934 suspected TB patients were examined out of which 471 were found to be MDR patients.
Officials informed that the BDQ drug is not given to every TB positive patient and there is a long verification process involved.
“It is only given to a patient after a laboratory test is conducted and if the patient is found to be MDR and extensively drug resistant (XDR). Further the physical condition of the patient is also assessed and then patient’s consent is taken before giving the BDQ,” informed Das.
Officials of the state Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) informed that they have undertaken several new initiatives with a view to combat TB.
These include introduction of CBNAAT machines. These TB testing machines have been recently introduced in 16 districts while they will be installed in all other districts by March.
“By conducting a single test, the CBNAAT machines can tell whether the patient is TB positive or negative and if they are drug resistant TB cases. The drug resistant cases are then sent to multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB wards for treatment,” said an official.
Apart from the presence of these machines in various districts, the health and family welfare department has also made a mobile van installed with the machine operational for remote areas.
The department also conducts various sensitisation programmes on a regular basis. Last year from July to October, they had launched a special initiative called ‘active case finding’ among high-risk populations.
“Under this, the department had conducted a house-to-house survey in four slum areas of Kamrup (Metro) to detect TB patients. Now this initiative is also being carried out in tea garden areas which are prone to TB. During this drive, sputum test for the residents is also conducted,” Dr P Bordoloi, state IEC officer (TB) told G Plus.
He added that awareness programmes for school students is one of their ongoing initiatives.
For undertaking these measures, the union health and family welfare ministry had awarded them for best innovation in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
The RNTCP authorities have also been working closely with all stakeholders including the private players to combat the disease. Private hospitals have started notifying the government about the number of TB patients received by them.
This will help the government to get to know the number of TB patients in the state.
“If the private players want, the government will also provide them with free medicines for TB and will also help the private doctors to conduct tests for their patients using the CBNAAT machine,” informed Bordoloi.
However, it is also proving to be challenging since the private practitioners think that if they notify, the government authorities will take away their patients.
“We only want to have accurate data about the prevalence of the disease in Assam and we can guide the private doctors,” said an official.
Zubeen Garg to become brand ambassador for TB awareness
Authorities told G Plus that they have roped in composer, singer and actor Zubeen Garg to create awareness about the disease in the state.
“Like Amitabh Bachchan has been doing great work at the national level for TB awareness, we had requested Zubeen Garg to work with us in improving our reach of awareness keeping in mind his popularity in Assam,” said RNTCP official.
He added that Garg has agreed to lend his support for the cause and is currently in the process of writing a few songs on the same.
- TB Hospital
- Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Tuberculosis (TB) hospital
- G Plus
- Guwahati Plus