"It is very important to integrate home-based care, rehabilitation and social support for people with drug-resistant TB," Amod Kumar, head of Community Medicine, St Stephen's Hospital, Delhi, said.

Kumar and others were part of a team of health advocates who met Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed to hand over a report of the review done on 14 sites in India where multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is being treated.

MDR-TB is a serious and difficult-to-treat form of tuberculosis resistant to many antibiotics. The team has documented how standard guidelines for Programmatic Management of Drug-resistant Tuberculosis (PMDT) of Central TB Division are getting implemented.

"PMDT guidelines were being followed in all the 14 sites we visited in the public sector. Our team also visited government sites along with few programmes managed by non-profit agencies and a private laboratory in Delhi and were very inspired to see that not only are the guidelines being strictly upheld, but an enormous effort has also gone into establishing and managing these sites," Bobby Ramakant of CNS Vote For Health campaign said.

The report has a series of personal stories of cured MDR-TB patients, as well as those with MDR-TB or Extensively Drug-Resistant TB (XDR-TB) who are currently receiving treatment from government PMDT sites.

Despite challenges of health systems and the highest TB disease burden globally, India has come a long way in its response to providing access to standard WHO-recommended anti-TB treatment through Directly Observed Treatment Short course (DOTS) to more than 14.2 million (1.42 crore) people across the country.

However, TB continues to remain one of the key public health priorities in India. Drug-resistant TB is one of the major concerns, and India is on track to providing universal access to quality diagnostics and treatment services for all patients with drug-resistant TB in the next five years.

(Agencies)

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