Aligning with the agenda of the recently held One World TB Summit, where India had reaffirmed its commitment towards ensuring a TB-free society Dr Rajyalakshmi along with her team is leading the research tk find a solution for TB among the tribal population
India has one of the highest burdens of tuberculosis (TB) in the world, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed for India to end tuberculosis by 2025 at the One World TB Summit in March this year. Against this urgency of collective action against TB, a noted medial expert from GITAM Institute of Medical Sciences & Research (GIMSR), Visakhapatnam has been awarded a research grant from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to design an effective programme in alignment with the national objective of eliminating Tuberculosis (TB) among the tribal population of the country.
An Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Medicine at GIMSR, Dr Rajyalakshmi, MBBS, MD (Community Medicine), has been sanctioned Rs 31 Lakh to lead the programme on ‘Comprehensive Tribal Management for Decentralized TB Care Services’ for a period of two years. The ICMR funding is for a year for the entire project.
As the Principal Investigator for this project — that has already started — Dr Rajyalakshmi coordinates with the various tribal authorities at various levels such as the Institutional Ethics Committee, district DMHO, concerned tribal authorities, the gram panchayat officials and forest officers and charts out actions to manage the project’s scientific and programmatic aspects.
She is also in charge of micro-planning, project progress etc. apart from ensuring the integrity and safeguarding of obtained data while ensuring the completion, accuracy, and timeliness of the project.
The Comprehensive Tribal TB Management Program for Decentralised TB Care Services project is a multi-centric study involving the tribal population and will be carried out simultaneously in different parts of the country, including Visakhapatnam and Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh) as well as Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha, and Meghalaya.
Notably, Andhra Pradesh consists of 33 tribal groups with a population of approximately 4.2 million. The project has so far covered three mandals of Paderu tribal area of Visakhapatnam. The co-investigators in the project are Dr. Subbarayudu Boda, Dr. Chaitanya Gujjarlapudi, Dr. N.G.Nagamani, Dr. Kuppli Sai Sushma and Dr. Vennam Bodhi Sri Vidya.
For this project, GIMSR installed an INR-7-lakh TruNAAT machine at Hukumpeta Mandal (Paderu) for intensified case finding through camps. GIMSR also deployed a Mobile X-ray machine for the outreach population to take chest X-rays as a part of diagnosis of TB and recruited six local tribal people.
The Indian government under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare already has a National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP), which is a centrally sponsored programme being implemented under the aegis of the National Health Mission (NHM) with resource sharing between the State Governments and the Central Government.