Doctors could face Jail if fail to report TB

All Clinical establishments as defined in the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010, that includes a wide range of medical establishments, hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, diagnostic services, including those operated by a single doctor have to notify a tuberculosis patient to the nodal officer. If fail to do so they can be can be punished with a jail term of six months to two years under the provisions of Sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This is for the first time, doctors, hospital authorities, chemists, and druggists could face a jail term for not notifying tuberculosis (TB) cases.

The Union Health Ministry has issued this notification with the that such strict rule can help in eradicating tuberculosis (TB) in India. Notably, in our country, TB was defined as a notifiable disease in 2012. However, there was no provision for penal action. Clinical Establishment Act, 2010 defines clinical establishments which include diagnostic services, dispensaries, hospitals, and clinics.

“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… Healthcare providers, termed as clinical establishments henceforth, shall 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 format as specified,” The Union Health Ministry said in its notification.

Recently, PM Modi had launched a TB-free India campaign. While attending End-TB Summit in Delhi, PM Modi said that the government has been following the principle of “treat every TB patient best at the very first opportunity”.

TB kills an evaluated 4,80,000 Indians every year. India also has more than a million ‘missing’ cases every year — these are not notified, and most remain either undiagnosed or inadequately diagnosed and treated in the private sector. This means patients don’t stick to the follow-up procedure, and often stop taking medication before the dose is completed, resulting in the bacteria developing a resistance to the drug. This then leads to the spread of drug-resistant TB.

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