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Tuberculosis cases show decline in Kashmir

Tuberculosis cases show decline in Kashmir
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J&K aims for TB-free status by 2025

Srinagar: Efforts by the Health Department have led to a decline in tuberculosis (TB) cases in Kashmir, with authorities aiming to make Jammu & Kashmir TB-free by 2025.

A senior health official said that TB cases are decreasing, with more districts showing improvement each day.

Over the last six years, a total of 21,462 TB cases have been reported in Kashmir. In 2018, there were 4,774 cases, decreasing to 4,080 in 2019. The number further dropped to 2,840 in 2020 due to reduced screening amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2022, 3,376 TB cases were recorded, while 2,956 cases were reported in 2023, a decline of approximately 400 cases from the previous year.

Five out of the ten districts in Kashmir, including four districts in south Kashmir and Budgam, have already been declared TB-free.

State Tuberculosis Officer Dr Adfar Qadri informed that Jammu & Kashmir has set a precedent in healthcare, with five revenue districts already declared TB-free. “Srinagar was awarded a gold medal last year, while the union territory received bronze. Most other districts have maintained their status quo. Budgam was declared TB-free in 2021,” he said.

Dr Qadri expressed confidence that TB incidence is declining in Kashmir and said the goal is to achieve TB elimination by 2025 through intensified case-finding and screening efforts. “Various measures have been implemented over the years to enhance infrastructure and manpower for early detection and effective treatment,” he said, adding that an artificial intelligence system has been deployed in districts that have already achieved TB-free status to enhance surveillance and eradicate the disease.

He further said testing has witnessed a threefold increase compared to the previous year, with a focus on early detection.

An official from the State TB cell said that tuberculosis is more prevalent in rural areas due to factors such as population density and inadequate nutrition. However, there has been a shift, with TB now affecting individuals across various socio-economic backgrounds, he said.

“Many individuals delay seeking medical consultation at the initial stage of TB, leading to worsened conditions upon diagnosis. However, TB can be fully treated with appropriate medication and timely intervention,” the official said.

The Health Ministry has set targets for reducing TB incidence, with monetary awards and certification provided to districts and states achieving specific milestones in TB elimination.

The National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP) in India offers free TB treatment through the Directly Observed Treatment Short Course Strategy (DOTS) system recommended by the World Health Organization. This system tracks patients’ infection status, severity, and treatment progress, contributing to a national database. (KNO)

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