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A week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to wipe out tuberculosis (TB) from India by 2025, the government has announced stringent steps including jail terms for doctors, hospital staff and chemists if they fail to report TB cases.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a notification said clinical establishments (hospitals and clinics in all recognised systems of medicine), doctors, chemists and druggists "shall notify every tuberculosis patient to local public health authority" in a prescribed format.
The Health Ministry has introduced provision for jail terms of up to two years if the major stakeholders in the fight against TB fail to report such cases to the nodal officer and if the health staff fail to take appropriate action on getting the information.
"The Clinical Establishment, Pharmacy, Chemist and Druggist, failing to notify a tuberculosis patient to the nodal officer ... and local public health staff of general health system of rural or urban local bodies, not taking appropriate public health action on receiving tuberculosis patient notification ... may attract the provisions of sections 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860)," said the Health Ministry.
Section 269 relates to "Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life", and provides for imprisonment of up to six months or fine, or both. And Section 270 on "Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life" has provision for jail term of up to two years or fine, or both.
The ministry said tuberculosis is a dangerous epidemic disease, threat to life and is a major public health problem accounting for substantial morbidity and mortality in the country. Early diagnosis and complete treatment is the corner-stone of TB prevention and control strategy.
"To ensure proper TB diagnosis and its management in patients and their contacts and to reduce TB transmission and further to address the problems of emergence and spread of Drug Resistant-Tuberculosis, it is essential to collect complete information of all TB patients," it said.
The notification further said that a secure web portal would be made available by the Central Tuberculosis Division to all practitioners, clinical establishments, pharmacies, chemists, druggists and patients for online submission of information.
"For TB patients notified from medical laboratory, chemist and self-notification by tuberculosis patients, staff of public health system will gather information to complete notification which include basis of diagnosis, site of disease, history of anti-tubercular treatment and classify type of TB patient," the ministry added.
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