EndTB: ‘MERM’ to keep watch on TB patients in Mumbai

According to the officials, it's been a month since the launch of MERM, and this technology is found to be effective. 'MERM' is like a small box, made out of a tin sheet. It contains an inbuilt chip which sends a signal to the DOTs center whenever a patient opens the box. The chip then generates a beep to remind the patient to take his medicines on time

Lancet report states, TB could be a prominent cause of child deaths

In India, every year, more than 4 lakh people lose their life because of Tuberculosis (TB), and around 29 lakh new cases of TB are diagnosed. And, a recent study revealed that India has the most number of Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR) TB patients in the World.

Sanket Sonar (name changed) a 22-year-old Mumbai resident, who is suffering from TB, have not missed his daily dose of medicine since past one month, thanks to ‘MERM’. Medication Event And Monitoring Reminder (MERM) helps patients to set reminders for medication, and beeps at a set time, and reminds him to take his medicines on time. Sanket is among the 100 TB patients, who have been given ‘MERM’ by the authorities.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Sanket said, “Many times, I forget to take medicines on time. But now, ‘MERM’ beeps at a set time, and reminds me that I have to take my medicines. With MERM, I have not forgotten to take medicines in the past one month. It helps me a lot.”

The officials say, “It’s been a month now, since we have launched MERM, and this technology is found to be effective, as TB patients, sometimes, fail to take the medicine, which aggravates their disease.”

How ‘MERM” works 

  • ‘MERM’ is like a small box, made out of a tin sheet. It contains an inbuilt chip. 
  • Whenever a patient opens the box, it sends a signal to the DOTs center, as the chip is connected to the DOTs center. 
  • The chip generates a beep to remind the patient to take his medicines on time. 

As of now, as many as 100 TB patients have been given MERM as a pilot project. If this project is successful, then MERM will be given to all TB patients in Mumbai as well as Maharashtra.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Sanjeev Kamble, Director of Health, Maharashtra, and State TB Control programme head, said, “As a pilot project, we have given MERM only to few patients. We are monitoring their responses as of now. MERM will keep a vigil on TB patients and will notify the authorities time to time. If the responses are good, we will implement this all over Maharashtra.”

Dr Lalit Anande, the Chief medical officer, said, “Number of times, we have found that patients take medicines from DOTs center, but fail to take them later at home. This will definitely help us in keeping a watch on these patients, and will help us to control TB menace.”

Maharashtra and TB  

  • In 2017, total 45,675 TB patients were recognised
  • As many as 6,600 patients are suffering from TB in Mumbai
  • Out of total TB patients, as many as 4891 are suffering from MDR-TB, while 670 are suffering from XDR-TB