With an aim to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) in India, the Centre has issued stringent rules. The Union Health Ministry has issued a notification stating that doctors, druggists, chemists and hospital authorities could face a jail term of six months to two years under the provisions of Sections 269 and 270. Section 269 states negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life and IPC 270 states malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life.
Notably, one can be punished with a six months jail term or fine under Section 269. Section 270 provides a jail term of two years or fine. The notification also says if a clinical establishment fail to notify TB patient to local public health staff and nodal officer, it will face action.
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. This act also defines the centre operated by single doctor.
“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”.
It has been learnt that TB kills an estimated 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.