Srinagar, March 21: Anantnag and Pulwama districts in south Kashmir have been declared tuberculosis free in the second round of the sub-national certification for TB elimination of India, health officials said on Tuesday.
Notably, after Budgam which was the first district in India declared as TB-free in March 2021 and now Anantnag and Pulwama districts have achieved this feat.
State TB Officer, Dr Adfar Qadri, said the three districts (Budgam, Pulwama and Anantnag) are the only three districts that have been declared TB-free so far across India.
“Srinagar has got a gold medal while UT J&K has got bronze and most of the other districts have maintained the status quo. We now have the distinction of having three districts with TB three,” she told Rising Kashmir.
Last year Anantnag, Pulwama and Kupwara got Gold during the Sub National Certification for TB Elimination in the country. Notably, Baramulla district got the Bronze medal (1 in 56 districts).
“TB incidence is declining in Kashmir. We will achieve TB elimination by 2025 as we are doing intensified and active case finding and case screening,” she said.
The TB team from Jammu and Kashmir along with other States and UTs would be felicitated at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on March 24 on World Tuberculosis Day.
Dr Adfar said there are four categories of recognition in achievement of reduction of case targets, the top spot being TB-free status meaning 80% reduction.
The other categories include gold medal category (over 60% reduction), silver medal category (over 40% reduction) and bronze medal category (over 20% reduction).
Notably, as per the District Level Annual Survey conducted in January this year by National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP) Kashmir for the Sub National Certification had revealed that five districts Anantnag, Baramulla, Kupwara, Pulwama and Srinagar had reported zero cases.
Sub-national certification is an initiative to mark the progress of districts, states and UTs towards TB free status, which was initiated in 2020 to achieve the target of TB free India by 2025.
The highly infectious disease continues to remain one of the major health concerns in the valley. However, over the years cases have declined.
Dr Adfar said the directorate has started treatment of Latent TB Infection and they are working to identify contacts of infected patients. “We are providing preventive treatment to contacts that can further limit the spread of disease,” she said.
She said they had taken several measures over the years to develop infrastructure and employ manpower for the early detection and effective treatment of the disease.
The Health Ministry has set a target of reducing incidence of new TB cases by 80% to end TB by 2025 while efforts towards TB elimination vary across States/Districts.
In India, the Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) provides free TB treatment at all govt. medical facilities through Directly Observed Treatment Short course Strategy (DOTS) system which is recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Under this system, a patient is given an identification card that tracks their site of infection, severity and treatment course and adds them to a national database.