For the first time, Union Health Ministry doctors, has issued a gazetted notification regarding jail term for failure to report of TB cases. Now, hospital authorities, doctors, chemists and druggists could face a jail term for not notifying tuberculosis (TB) cases.
Early diagnosis and complete treatment of tuberculosis is the corner-stone of tuberculosis prevention and control strategy. Additionally, inappropriate diagnosis and irregular or incomplete treatment with anti-tubercular drugs may contribute to complications, disease spread and the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis.
“To ensure proper tuberculosis diagnosis and its management in patients and their contacts and to reduce tuberculosis transmission and further to address the problems of emergence and spread of Drug Resistant-Tuberculosis, it is essential to collect complete information of all tuberculosis patients,” notes the recent central government notification.
According to the notification, the government has asked the Healthcare Providers to notify every tuberculosis patient to local Public Health Authority, namely, District Health Officer or Chief Medical Officer of a District and Municipal Health Officer of urban local bodies in whatever way they are known; or their designated District Tuberculosis Officers in a prescribed format.
All Pharmacy, Chemist and Druggist dispensing anti-tubercular medicines are also supposed to notify respective tuberculosis patients along with details of medicines as per the prescribed format and maintain a copy of prescription along with the name of the treating Medical Practitioner and furnish the same either electronically or in hard copy, to the Nodal Officer of the District or any Officer authorized by Nodal Officer.
The notification also urges self-notification of the disease.
Failing to notify the designated authorities will now attract a penalty for the Clinical Establishment, Pharmacy, Chemist, and Druggist as imprisonment for a term which may extend from two years to six months, or fine, or both.
The 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).
While tuberculosis was made a notifiable disease in India in 2012, there was no provision for penal action.