WHO wants sustainability of programme ensured
Plans to set up labs for culture and drug sensitivity testing Treatment sites to be identified for MDR-TB cases
NEW DELHI: Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Tuesday said the Government had cleared Rs. 1,156 crore for the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) for the next five years. Of this, Rs. 950 crore would be provided by the Government and the World Bank as loan.
"The loan amount is also our money as we have to repay it. The remaining Rs. 200 crore will come from the Global Fund," Dr. Ramadoss said at a function held here to present the report of the Tuberculosis Joint Monitoring Mission to the Ministry. There was financial sustainability.
The mission asked the Government to ensure the sustainability of the RNTCP by regular funding against external aid. It also recommended the integration of the World Health Organisation-funded RNTCP with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to protect and sustain its key elements.
"Financial sustainability and manageability are equally important for the success of the programme," senior member Fabio Luelmo from the WHO told reporters here.
Combating TB was a long-term battle, particularly in the wake of the Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) variant and the rising incidence of TB in HIV patients. Hence, the Government must continue to give priority to the disease.
The NRHM, through its cadres, could also improve access and convenience of services at the community level, the mission said in its findings.
Dr. Ramadoss said: "We are now trying to consolidate the programme at the Central and State levels and would be integrated with the NRHM at the district level."
With the percentage of MDR-TB incidence still a little less than 3 per cent, the Ministry has developed a national plan for implementing an advanced TB control programme. It plans to establish a RNTCP network in a phased manner by setting up accredited quality assured Intermediate Reference Laboratories for culture and drug sensitivity testing services.
Concurrently, a network of Directly Observed Treatment Sites as per the international guidelines will be identified for enrolling and providing treatment to MDR-TB cases. The treatment of MDR-TB is over 300 times more expensive than for non-resistant TB and uses drugs that have many side effects. The treatment takes more than three years.
India has the distinction of implementing the largest TB control programme in the world, which provides free treatment for an additional 100,000 patients every month with the success rate being 86 per cent.