Wednesday, 22August2018

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Fight against TB enters WhatsApp

GUWAHATI: For the first time in the state, social media will come to the aid of those suffering from tuberculosis and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDRTB).

Through a WhatsApp group named 'Let's Fight Against Tuberculosis,' the Jorhat distrtict's TB control programme has introduced a system that will monitor the status of patients and keep a ground-level tab on TB-control programmes.

Small tea gardens and rural pockets have been reporting a slight increase in tuberculosis and MDRTB since the start of the year. Between January and September this year, the Jorhat programme has examined a total of 5,065 suspect cases.

"The social media group has helped me observe whether field work is being done properly or not. Above all, it is aimed at ensuring that no TB patients leave their treatment course half-way. The group system works both on the intensive phase of treatment and the continuation phase," said Bhaktimay Bhattacharyya, Jorhat district TB officer.

The group, which has been active for more than two months, allows for a transparent documentation of the efficiency of the TB-control programme in the district. It also ensures that programme officials' visits to tuberculosis patients' homes are monitored and that patients living in tea gardens or distant areas are not left behind.

Whenever officials pay a visit to a health centre or a home, as part of their regular rounds, they have to detail every aspect of their interactive sessions with patients.

The WhatsApp group comprises the district TB officer, senior health officials, senior treatment supervisors, senior laboratory upervisors, tuberculosis home visitors, social workers and health activists, ensuring a complete network of communication.

"Jorhat's WhatsApp system is now being adopted by other districts as well. Recently, Sivasagar district has launched its own group too," said an official from an international organisation.