TB Forum demands GeneXpert in Maharashtra

GeneXpert at Lok Nayak Hospital
Delhi: Photo credit: CNS
Recent advances in TB diagnostics, particularly around GeneXpert, a technology which enables a rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) and also of Multidrug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) within two hours, has been a breakthrough in the worldwide efforts to curb the spread of the disease. Increased media coverage of this development and the growing incidence of MDR-TB as well as Extensively Drug-Resistant TB (XDR-TB) have stepped up general awareness and knowledge in the community of TB. Patients and families affected by TB are now coming together to demand the latest available technology with the potential to save many lives through an early and accurate diagnosis.

On February 6, 2013, at a ceremony to inaugurate TB Information, Education and Communication (IEC) canopies, calendars, and stickers, a TB Forum submitted a proposal to Mrs Vaijayanti Gujar-Gholap, Corporator from Ward No. 26, Kalyan Dombivili Municipal Corporation (KDMC) in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The KDMC TB Forum demanded that GeneXpert be procured for the municipality. The proposal was followed by a discussion about the cost and benefits of this technology, and Mr RK Sonawane, Commissioner, KDMC, who was also present at the programme agreed to consider the proposal. With his support, the TB Forum members are taking the lead to ensure that this technology is available in KDMC at the earliest.

The creation of TB Forums, comprising TB patients and affected community members, is a unique intervention facilitated by International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) implemented Project Axshya, a civil society initiative to strengthen TB care and control in India. These Forums at the district level give a voice to affected communities and a platform to advocate with TB programme managers resolution of challenges faced by TB patients in accessing services. Patients and affected communities thus become active stakeholders participating in shaping the future of TB care and control.

Dr Nevin Wilson, Regional Director, The Union, says, "This is a move very significant and we need more TB patients making such demands so that these new diagnostics become available in the public and in the private sector.”

Early and correct diagnosis of drug sensitive as well as MDR-TB, is key to catching on the disease timely and treating it successfully, thus realising our dream of a TB free world.

Citizen News Service - CNS
March 2013