A section on tobacco consumption added to the national programme for TB control
In a bid to raise awareness about the role tobacco plays in causing tuberculosis, the government has included a section on tobacco consumption in the training manual for doctors under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) of 2011.
“The tuberculosis (TB) modules are revised in three to four years. The tobacco control department of the health ministry approached the TB control department while they were working on formulating new modules for treating patients last year,” says Jagdeesh Kaur, chief medical officer, directorate general of health services. Recommendations were made to include a section on tobacco consumption, linking it to tuberculosis, Kaur adds.
Tobacco consumption lowers a person’s immunity and also affects the lungs as it slows down the movement of cilia, hair-like particles in the lungs that clean the organ when particles get deposited on it. This makes a person vulnerable to TB. “Studies have also shown that smokers develop TB at higher rate and their mortality rate is also more,” says P C Gupta, director, Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, a Mumbai-based non-profit. Also, if TB patients are non-smokers, the effect of treatment is more effective in comparison to TB patients who are smokers, adds Gupta.
Some smoking cessation centres in the country do mention TB as one of the diseases that smoking causes. “The government has two pilot projects running in Assam and Gujarat where smoking cessation is clubbed with TB treatment,” informs Gupta. But the training for doctors treating TB is an extensive activity and linking the fatal disease to tobacco consumption will help treat the disease better, says Kaur.
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