The Health Ministry’s unique “adopt a TB-patient” (Ni-kshay Mitras) initiative -- probably the only one-of-its-kind in the world -- announced on September 9 saw the enrollment of 1,78,443 TB patients and 1667 Ni-kshay Mitras (donor) till Sunday evening.
The programme was brought in to fill the critical ``community’’ elements into India’s fight towards the Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan aimed at eliminating TB by 2025.
“Although the efforts of the government are yielding significant results, the community and the institutions in the society could play a critical role in filling the gaps and addressing the social determinants, thereby contributing to the national goal,’’ said a Health Ministry official.
He added that for the effective engagement of the community in the path towards ending TB in India, the Health Ministry was implementing the community support to TB patients - the Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan.
Ni-kshay Mitra (Donor) for this programme includes co-operative societies, corporates, elected representatives, individuals, institutions, non-governmental organisations, political parties and partners who can support by adopting the health facilities (for individual donor), blocks/urban wards/districts/States for accelerating the response against TB to complement the government efforts, as per the district-specific requirements in coordination with the district administration.
According to the Health Ministry the State and the district administration would support Ni-kshay Mitras in prioritising the districts and in providing guidance on the critical gap analysis and district-specific needs.
The support provided to the patient under this initiative is in addition to the free diagnostics, free drugs and Ni-kshay Poshan Yojana provided by the National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP) to all the TB patients notified from both the public and the private sector.
The Health Ministry said that Ni-kshay Mitra would provide additional support to all the on-treatment The TB patients who had given consent for support, in the selected health facilities /blocks/urban wards/districts/States.
``Only individual Ni-kshay Mitra can choose the patients from a given health facility. The other Ni-kshay Mitras have to choose the entire geographical unit (blocks/urban wards/districts/States),’’ noted a Health Ministry official.
He added that the type of additional assistance that may be provided by the Ni-kshay Mitra to on-treatment TB patients who had given consent for support shall include -- nutritional support, additional investigations for the diagnosed TB patients, vocational support and additional nutritional supplements. The minimum period of commitment for providing the additional support to the TB patient would be one year.
The Ministry said that the initiative would increase the active involvement of society in the fight against tuberculosis.
``This activity aims at increasing awareness among the public regarding tuberculosis and the involvement of the community in supporting the treatment cascade shall also help in the reduction of the stigma. The provision of additional support to the TB patient shall also result in the reduction of the out-of-pocket expenditure for the family of the TB patient. Ultimately improved nutrition for the TB patient shall result in better treatment outcomes,’’ the Ministry explained in its guidance document.
India has the world’s highest tuberculosis (TB) burden, with an estimated 26 lakh people contracting the disease and approximately 4 lakh people dying from it every year. The economic burden of TB in terms of the loss of lives, income and workdays is also substantial. TB usually affects the most economically productive age group of society resulting in a significant loss of working days thereby pushing the TB patients further into the vortex of poverty.
“Only individual Ni-kshay Mitra can choose the patients from a given health facility”Health Ministry official