India: Mobile app for doctors to alert govt about new TB patients

MUMBAI: In another first for the city's tuberculosis-control programme, doctors here will be able to use a mobile app to notify the central government of new patients. The Android-based app will be directly linked to the government's online registry of TB patients called Nikshay.

Notification of TB patients was made compulsory in May 2012 after the emergence of extremely drug-resistant TB strains in Mumbai. The Centre had, at that time, approved a pilot plan for treatment, sanctioning new machines and free medicines for such patients.

Since 2012, the city's doctors and laboratories have notified the presence of more than 9,000 patients, said TB officer Dr Minni Khetrapal. But she feels there is a huge hidden burden of the disease. "We estimate there would be an equal number of patients whose existence should be notified to the government," she said.

With World TB Day round the corner, the World Health Organisation has said there are 3 million patients "missing" from government health programmes across the world and they are unknowingly spreading this highly infectious disease.

With each TB patient spreading the disease to 15 people within a year, surveillance is a tool to control the ailment. From a public health perspective, notification is important as it allows government officials to check the newly diagnosed patient's relatives for the disease. The mobile app hence becomes important. "Some doctors are reluctant to fill elaborate forms needed to notify the government about a new patient. So the Union government has simplified the process to the app," said Dr Khetrapal. Workshops will be held on March 21 and 22 for Indian Medical Association members in Mumbai to popularize the app.

The corporation's health department has started a public-private partnership by asking chest physicians who are into private practice to join its TB programme. It held a workshop for chest physicians over the weekend. "These doctors will sensitize other physicians in their areas about the testing and prescriptions. This will help check the rise of drug-resistant tuberculosis," said Dr Khetrapal.

Source: The Times of India

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By The Times of India

Published: March 21, 2014, 2:43 p.m.

Last updated: March 21, 2014, 3:48 p.m.

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