Kashmir to be TB-free region by 2025

Srinagar: In a significant development, Tuberculosis (TB) cases across the Kashmir region are on the decline due to concerted efforts by the health department, public awareness campaigns, and improved healthcare facilities, officials said.

Official data obtained by a local news gathering agency indicates a decreasing trend in TB cases across Kashmir, with the region aiming to be TB-free by 2025.

According to the data, in 2020, 2,841 cases were reported in the Kashmir division, with fewer screenings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers increased to 3,439 cases in 2021, followed by 3,396 in 2022, and 2,638 cases reported so far this year.

Officials said that the target for this year was to have cases below 3,500, and they are confident of achieving this goal.

They said the Anantnag and Pulwama districts were declared tuberculosis-free under the sub-national certification for TB elimination in India earlier this year, while Budgam received this designation in 2021.

“Budgam, Anantnag, and Pulwama fall into the TB-free category, with Baramulla categorised as bronze, Kupwara as gold, and Srinagar already awarded gold. Overall, three districts in Kashmir are free of TB, with two receiving gold awards and one a bronze award,” the officials said.

They said that claims of TB state units are being verified by four national agencies on the ground. Four national agencies assess TB status and provide certification based on performance data.

Officials said that patients receive the utmost attention, with regular data updates and a team of watchdogs at the block, district, state, and federal levels. Screenings of patients’ relatives are also being conducted.

Under the Nikshay Poshan Yojna, patients receive Rs 500 for the duration of their therapy, they said, adding that the decline in cases is attributed to targeted prevention campaigns and enhanced diagnostic capabilities. They also stressed the need for continued vigilance to sustain and build upon these gains.

Officials further said that robust surveillance along with public awareness campaigns will continue to make Kashmir TB-free by 2025.

The government in Kashmir has introduced an AI-based system to identify potential TB cases, and testing has been increased to detect cases in the initial stages.

There are four categories of recognition for achieving reduction targets, with the top spot being TB-free status, indicating an 80% reduction. Other categories include gold medal (over 60% reduction), silver medal (over 40% reduction), and bronze medal (over 20% reduction).

Budgam was the first district to be declared TB-free. Sub-national certification, initiated in 2020, marks progress towards TB-free status, with the goal of achieving a TB-free India by 2025. The process rewards well-performing states/districts when specific milestones in TB elimination are achieved. (KNO)

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