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Bureaucracy In India Slowing Treatment Of TB, Wall Street Journal Reports

The Wall Street Journal examines how bureaucracy in India is slowing the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in the country. The newspaper recounts the story of Rahima Sheikh, “one of 16 patients identified by Mumbai doctors to be resistant to virtually all traditional TB treatments.” The Wall Street Journal writes, “Mumbai officials have publicly pledged free treatment for Mrs. Sheikh and other, similar patients with extreme forms of drug resistance within the city’s jurisdiction,” but “Mrs. Sheikh has now become caught in the bureaucracy of India’s incomplete national network for treating the most virulent TB.”

“Two weeks ago, Ashok Kumar, head of India’s national TB control program in New Delhi, said in an interview that he would make sure Mrs. Sheikh continued to be treated,” the Wall Street Journal notes, adding, “On Monday, however, Mumbai’s top TB official, Mini Khetrapal, said the city would stop providing her medicines because Mrs. Sheikh no longer lives within the city.” According to the newspaper, “Kumar said he is rapidly expanding India’s capacity to diagnose and treat multidrug resistance,” but “Mrs. Sheikh’s area of Uttar Pradesh — India’s most populous state — isn’t yet served.” The newspaper continues, “It was unclear Wednesday night when more medicines might reach Mrs. Sheikh,” noting she “needs to continue treatment at least an additional 18 months for a chance of being cured” (Anand/Shah, 10/11).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.