Over 145 TB patients die in Agra without treatment during lockdown

When Covid-19 arrived on Indian shores, the entire government health sector of India had plunged into chaos, trying to gear up to contain the onslaught of the disease. However, with the entire health machinery becoming dedicated to fighting Covid-19, the patients suffering from other illnesses have had to pay the price, with their lives.

Over 145 tuberculosis patients have died in the past 54 days in Agra. The toll is more than six times the usual number of deaths from TB in the city.

Citing the reason behind the huge number of deaths from an illness that is curable in most cases, relatives of the deceased patients said that the health department had stopped providing consultancy and medicines to the TB patients and added that most of them died due to the lack of medicines.

In comparison to the lockdown period, during which over 145 patients succumbed to the illness, only 27 patients had died due to TB between January 1 and March 19. These figures have been revealed on the government portal designed to track TB patients.

Between January 1 to May 12, a total of 5,817 patients were registered on the government portal, of which 290 patients did not receive any treatment during the same period. Out of the 507 patients whose health status was posted on the portal, only seven were cured, while 172 died. Of the 172, 145 died during the lockdown period. The remaining 27 died in the 80 days preceding the lockdown.

A report claimed that in 2019, as many as 21,577 TB patients were registered in Agra out of which 4,325 are being treated currently. Health results of 17,244 patients have been posted, in which, 841 have succumbed to the bacterial disease and 1,909 have been cured. 12355 patients completed the course of medicines and 670 proved resistant to conventional drugs. 870 dropped out of the treatment.

Meanwhile, at least two patients have been reported to have died in the past 48 hours in the Agra District Hospital due to delayed or refused treatment.

Shahid, a 59-year-old deaf and mute man, was refused admission to the emergency ward of the district hospital and was made to wait till the OPD started. By the time his son managed to get him to the concerned doctor, he had already passed away.

In wake of the utter paralysis of the health infrastructure of Agra due to Covid-19, such incidents are becoming increasingly regular in the city. In the absence of an exact count, it could be said that at least 2-3 people are dying in Agra every day due to being turned down by the private hospitals or not getting treatment at the government hospitals.

Commenting on the large number of deaths of TB patients, District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh said that this is a very serious matter and steps will be taken to ensure that TB patients get proper treatment on time.

District TB Officer UB Singh told India Today TV that the patients have low immunity and get affected by respiratory and other illnesses easily. At present, the entire staff of the TB department is engaged in the Covid ward but steps are being taken to make sure the medicines reach on time, he said.

TB Wing Head of Department (HoD) Dr Santosh Kumar said that although the OPDs are closed, serious TB patients are being given proper treatment. It is only the Multi-Drug Resistant TB patients who are being affected more severely.

Agra Divisional Commissioner Anil Kumar said that orders have been issued to open the OPDs at the district hospital and SN Medical college. OPDs are also being opened at Mathura, Mainpuri, and Firozabad hospitals. All hospitals have been issued instructions to provide treatment to all patients, regardless of their illness and.

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About the author: Sohom Das
Founder of Tuccho.

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