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Manipur first in Northeast-India region to test multi drug-resistant tuberculosis

Imphal: Manipur will have the first centre in the Northeast to treat multi drug-resistant TB, with one of the four national reference centres assuring the state’s intermediate reference laboratory of accreditation, in order to function as a national reference laboratory.

A team from Delhi’s Lala Ram Swarup Hospital, one of the four national reference laboratories of the country for testing multi drug-resistant TB, visited the state’s intermediate reference laboratory at the medical department’s research and development wing at Lamphelpat of Imphal West last month.

“The team was satisfied with our laboratory and work. They assured us that accreditation would be given to our laboratory as a national reference laboratory within three months,” state TB officer Ak. Khamba said.

The intermediate reference laboratory was opened on March 19 this year for Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram. The Centre also sanctioned an intermediate reference laboratory for Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Only the Imphal laboratory is functioning so far.

The officer said so far, 16 blood samples from Imphal and Imphal East were tested for multi drug-resistant TB at the laboratory. Of them, nine tested positive.

The samples of the positive cases will be sent to Lala Ram Swarup Hospital and the Delhi national reference laboratory would declare the final results.

Once the Imphal centre gets the accreditation, it can declare the results of the positive cases and start treating the patients immediately.

“We have requested the health departments of Mizoram and Nagaland to send samples for testing at the Imphal laboratory. They will be sending the samples very soon,” the officer said.

Khamba said till the Imphal laboratory opened, the authorities did not know of the existence of multi drug-resistant TB cases in the state.

“Many TB patients died and we are now suspecting that they were died of the multi drug-resistant TB. Samples from other districts of Manipur will also start coming to the Imphal laboratory for testing,” he said.

He said because of high HIV/AIDS prevalence, the number of TB cases was high in the state.

The state government identified two rooms at the state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences here to develop it as a ward for patients with multi drug-resistant TB.

The ward will have 10 beds — five each for men and women. The duration of treatment is 28 months. The ward will start functioning by August this year.

“The detection of the nine cases is only the tip of the iceberg. We have reasons to believe that there are many cases of multi drug-resistance TB patients in Manipur as TB patients did not take medicines properly during the first line of treatment,” he said.

If a TB patient undergoes the first line of treatment properly, he would be cured and would not contact multi drug-resistant strain, experts said.

Dr K. Priyokumar, the nodal officer of the ART Centre of the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital here, said TB was not a killer disease even if an HIV-infected person contracted it as secondary infection. “But it becomes a killer disease when the patient fails to follow the doctors’ advice or take the full course of the prescriptions and starts spreading drug-resistant TB to others. It is because of this reason that number of patients is increasing not only in Manipur but also in India,” the doctor said.

He said HIV-positive patients were vulnerable to TB because their immune system was very low. He said about 30 to 35 per cent of the HIV/AIDS patients coming for treatment to the hospital were infected by TB.

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