After more than 70 city chemists were trained and identified as tuberculosis treatment providers, the programme will be scaled up to the national level, confirmed officials from the central TB division in New Delhi. In January, the Indian Pharmaceuticals Association (IPA) in association with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association conducted an awareness programme for chemists in Mulund. So far, more than 70 chemists have become DOTS (Directly Observed TB Short Course) providers in Mumbai, while 250 chemists have been trained and 100 identified as DOTS providers in Navi Mumbai, Kalyan and Dombivli.
"The initiative is established in Maharashtra and will begin other states such as Kerala." said Manjiri Gharat, from the IPA.
Activists said the involvement of the private sector was crucial as more than 60% of TB patients seek treatment from private practitioners and buy medicines from chemists. "People have a rapport with their chemists," said Gharat. "Pharmacists can counsel suspected TB patients, suggest the right tests and provide treatment,"
Dhanskhekhar Nadar, a city pharmacist said, "Last year, three patients I referred for the tests were diagnosed. Now they have completed the treatment at my pharmacy.