Mumbai’s health system was lauded by representatives of the American Centre for Disease Control and USAIDS. Six months ago the city was under the scanner for a tuberculosis epidemic. The TB programme review team, showed appreciation for BMC’s door-to-door surveillance procedure which helped increase the number of patients brought under the revised national tuberculosis control programme (RNTCP).

In fact, BMC sources said that its model might be adopted across the country by the Centre. Mumbai was chosen for a pilot project with additional funding and infrastructure to reduce the cases, especially the drug-resistant variety. While RNTCP works independently of the local health structure, the BMC asked its health workers to also look for TB patients during their door-to-door visits.

On Wednesday, the monitoring mission felt that such surveys should be integrated into the TB control plan in both rural and urban areas. “Outreach programmes are conducted by the local self-government bodies in urban and rural areas. The outreach worker, while looking for malaria or pregnancy cases, has to ask about TB symptoms as well,” said a civic official, requesting anonymity.

BMC additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar confirmed that the monitoring team hailed the BMC’s efforts.”After screening 24 wards, we found 4,168 suspects, who were encouraged to go to a local TB centre for a sputum check. Of them, 458 tested positive and 452 are already on treatment,” she added.

The door-to-door surveys ensured that those who would have otherwise not gone to the public health post for a TB check were encouraged to go. “Experience with malaria helped us,” said Mhaiskar. A couple of years ago, the BMC started door-to-door checks for malaria patients.

BMC’s second leg of door-to-door TB survey begins on September 1.

Also read: How you can prevent TB