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National Tuberculosis Centre to set up reference laboratories across the country

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Kathmandu: The National Tuberculosis Centre(NTC) will set up three reference laboratories in Surkhet, Pokhara and Dharan within this fiscal year. It plans to establish three other reference laboratories in Dhangadi, Butwal and Janakpur or Birgunj by 2021-end.

Director at National Tuberculosis Centre, Dr Sagar Kumar Rajbhandari said that the reference laboratories will help diagnose multi-drug tuberculosis resistance and used to diagnose tuberculosis cases from across the country. These laboratories will be equipped with advanced technology, which will be helpful to diagnose complex cases of tuberculosis.

To help reduce the number of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, the Center has also recently started distributing multi-drug resistance tuberculosis drugs from local health centres.

Rajbhandari said that they have decided to provide medicines to the patients from health centres in their locality. This will reduce the financial burden of the patients and save their time on daily visits to hospitals. He added that the programme will also be extended to Bardiya, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi and in other districts. It is estimated that there are 1,500 MDR-TB cases in the country from among 1,500 patients only 600 are receiving treatment.

The government used to provide medicines only from the district hospitals and other well-equipped hospitals. There are 21 multi-drug resistance tuberculosis centres and 86 sub-centres across the country. Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is a type of tuberculosis infection caused by bacteria that is resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB medications.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), inappropriate or inaccurate use of antimicrobial drugs, or unused formulations of drugs (such as use of single drugs, poor quality drugs or bad storage conditions), and premature treatment interruption can lead to drug resistance, which can then be transmitted, especially in crowded settings like prisons and hospitals.

It is estimated that 45,000 of new cases of tuberculosis are added each year. According to the National Tuberculosis Centre, 32,000 cases have been registered each year under the National Tuberculosis Programme.

Source: THT