TB Project India in Punjab through Red Cross Volunteers
TB Burden in India
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in India. In spite of highly effective drugs and vaccine available, its problem continues with a global annual incidence of 8.6 million/year and 1.7 million deaths annually.

India has the highest TB burden in the world, accounting for nearly one fifth of the global incidence. Though the Revised Tuberculosis Control Program is being implemented on priority basis by the Government of India but a great chunk of TB patients leave their treatment without completing their treatment course. It is making further difficult to tackle the problem of tuberculosis because patients who are not treated till cured are more likely to become multi drug resistance-TB (MDR-TB). According to RNTCP data, 12% to 17% MDR cases are found among Category-II TB patients. The prevention of emergence of MDR-TB in the community is more important because of long treatment (for 27 months), poor adherence, high cost and side effects of treating MDR. Moreover, the MDR treatment is costly as compared to treatment of newly deductable pulmonary TB.
Involvement of Indian Red Cross Society for re-treatment of TB patients

It is in this context that the Indian Red Cross Society National Headquarters New Delhi took initiative to take up TB Project for re-treatment of Cat-II TB patients from Sept-2009. One such project was allotted to Indian Red Cross Society Punjab State Branch also covering two districts-Amritsar & Jalandhar. The most vulnerable TB patients who were mostly very poor, illiterate, alcoholic, drug addicted, labourers and migrants living in slum area were given to the Red Cross volunteers for treatment. The volunteers brought the TB patients to DOT centres and motivated them to complete their treatment without break. Besides, patient care support, the awareness activities in the community were also carried out under the project.
Achievements under TB Project in Punjab from 2009 to 2014

Under this Project, 615 TB patients were treated from Sept 2009 to Dec-2014 out of which except 5 TB patients all the patients completed their treatment without default during 2009 to 2012 while 100% TB patients completed their treatment during the year 2013 & 14. The project activities were monitored by the expert teams of International & National level during this period and placed Punjab state branch as the “best performing state amongst all the seven states where the intervention is in progress.” The Indian Red Cross Society National Headquarters on it sanctioned a prestigious TB project – “Prevention & Management of TB including MDR” to Punjab State Red Cross Branch for the year-2015.

Prevention & Management of Tuberculosis including MDR-TB in Punjab

This project was sanctioned with the support of Irish Red Cross Society for the year 2015 under which 400 defaulted Cat-I & II TB patients who had stopped DOTS treatment without completion, were to be put back on treatment until they are cured. Secondly, 1000 suspected missing cases of TB from most vulnerable communities were planned to be screened by arranging 6 health check-up & screening camps in two districts. The said 6 planned screening camps were organized in the slum areas of Amritsar & Jalandhar district in which 4028 patients availed the services of free x-ray, pathology test, sugar test, free medicines etc. 1827 of them were TB suspects with chest problems. In this matter, the state branch achieved 183% of the given target. Besides, 353 TB patients referred by the District TB centers were enrolled for retreatment through Red Cross volunteers. All the patients were given counselling and other nutritional care support till they were declared cured.

This ongoing project has been extended for the year 2016 under which a target of holding 8 health check-up & screening camps and retreatment of 400 vulnerable TB patients is given for the year 2016. Till 1st May 2016, 3 above said such camps have been held while the rest of the 5 camps would be held in remaining 7 months period of the project (May to Dec-2016). Review of the outcome of this project has been done by the experts of International & National level team headed by Mr. John Roche, National & International Head of services from Irish Red Cross Society. They visited Punjab on 20th March, 2016 and felt satisfied with the ongoing activities under the project. During the visit, the State Coordinator was also honoured by Mr. John Roche for the best performance under the project.

TB Control Project under Slum Area Scheme Amritsar

Indian Red Cross Society Punjab State Branch is implementing one more TB Project in Slum Area Amritsar from April-2011. This project is meant for covering Cat-I and Cat-II TB patients and is being implemented in partnership with Punjab Health Department. IRCS Pb. has set up four Red Cross TB DOTS centres where patients are treated and given patient care support and counselling for taking regular medicines till the completion of the treatment course. 445 TB patients were taken up for treatment and were provided patient care services till March-2015. This project has been successfully implemented from the year 2011-12 to 2014-15 and has brought down the default rate to 1%. This project continued during the year 2015-16 also and 137 TB patients were taken for retreatment in the same area where Zero percent default rate was achieved in the year 2015-16.

Activities in Pictures: