The Ministry of Health on Tuesday said doctors, chemists and druggists can be punished with jail time for not informing government authorities about tuberculosis cases. In India, TB was made a notifiable disease – any disease required by law to be reported to government authorities – in 2012. However, there was no provision until now to take penal action if cases were not reported.
The ministry’s notification said clinical establishments must inform the nodal officer about TB patients, and those who do not can be punished with a jail term of six months to two years under the Indian Penal Code, The Indian Express reported.
The notice comes just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government planned to eradicate tuberculosis in India by 2025 – five years ahead of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals deadline.
The ministry’s notification has also made it mandatory for government health officers to track the notified TB patients by visiting them at home and ensuring that they follow the treatment prescribed to them, The Telegraph reported.
The new rules are aimed at improving TB surveillance and ensuring cases of TB are not underreported, according to The Telegraph.