Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a Bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread through the air by a person suffering from TB. A single patient can infect 10 or more people in a year.
India has a long and distinguished tradition of research in TB. Studies from the Tuberculosis Research Centre in Chennai and the National Tuberculosis Institute in Bangalore provided key knowledge to improve treatment of TB patients all around the world.
Modern anti-TB treatment can cure virtually all patients. It is, however, very important that treatment be taken for the prescribed duration, which in every case is a minimum of 6 months. Because treatment is of such a long duration and patients feel better after just 1-2 months, and because many TB patients face other problems such as poverty and unemployment, treatment is often interrupted.
Therefore, just providing anti-TB medication is not sufficient to ensure that patients are cured. The DOTS strategy ensures that infectious TB patients are diagnosed and treated effectively till cure, by ensuring availability of the full course of drugs and a system for monitoring patient compliance to the treatment.
Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS)
The DOTS strategy along with the other components of the Stop TB strategy, implemented under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) in India, is a comprehensive package for TB control.
The DOTS strategy is cost-effective and is today the international standard for TB control programmes. To date, more than 180 countries are implementing the DOTS strategy. India has adapted and tested the DOTS strategy in various parts of the country since 1993, with excellent results, and by March 2006 nationwide DOTS coverage has been achieved.