No shortage of tuberculosis drugs: Azad

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DRUGNew Delhi, June 21;Amid reports of scarcity of tuberculosis drugs, the Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday said there is no such shortage and the Ministry has already placed orders for new stocks which will arrive by July end.

“At present there is no shortage. We always keep standby arrangements and we are providing the medicines from that stock. Orders have been placed and within a month’s time, supplies will be made available to the states across the country,” he said after inaugurating the private ward at LRS Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases in New Delhi.

He, however, acknowledged that despite socio-economic development and advances in medical science, tuberculosis still remains a major public health concern globally.

“Since 2007, the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme has achieved case detection rate of more than 70 per cent in line with the global targets for TB control while maintaining treatment success rate of more than 85 per cent,” he said.

Mr. Azad said that the treatment success rates of the programme have tripled from 25 per cent in pre-RNTCP era to 87 per cent present and TB death rates have been reduced from 29 per cent to 4 per cent during the same period.

Another challenge of great concern, he said, is the growing of resistance to anti-TB drugs due to irregular and incomplete treatment with irrational regimens.

“This is being dealt with appropriate expansion of diagnostic and treatment services for managing Drug Resistant TB across the country,” he said.

Asked if the health ministry would be sending any help to the flood-affected regions of Uttarakhand, Azad said, “If the states ask for help and request for medicines, doctors and other facilities, we will definitely send them…But as of now the state government, para military forces and Army are all working to bring back the trapped people from the mountains and the priority right now is to save lives.”

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