The Union Health Ministry’s “adopt a TB-patient” ( Ni-kshay Mitra ) initiative — probably the only one-of-its-kind in the world — announced on Friday had 1,78,443 TB patients and 1,667 Ni-kshay Mitras (donors) enrolling till Sunday evening.
The programme was brought in to fill the critical “community” element into India’s fight towards eliminating TB by 2025 under the Pradhan Mantri TB-Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan.
“Though the efforts of the government are yielding significant results, the community and the institutions in society could play a critical role in filling the gaps and addressing the social determinants, thereby contributing to the national goal,” a Health Ministry official said.
The official said that for the effective engagement of the community for eradicating TB in India, the Ministry was implementing community support for TB patients — the Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan.
The donors include cooperative societies, corporates, elected representatives, individuals, institutions, non-governmental organisations, political parties and partners willing to adopt the health facilities (for individual donor) and urban wards, blocks, districts and States for accelerating the response against TB to complement the government’s efforts, as per the district-specific requirements in coordination with the district administration.
According to the Ministry, the State and the district administration would support the donors 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 the Ni-kshay Poshan Yojana provided by the National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP) to all the patients notified from both the public and the private sector.
The Ministry said that donors would provide additional support to all the on-treatment TB patients who had given consent for support, in the selected health facilities, blocks, urban wards, districts and States. “Only individual donors can choose the patients from a given health facility.
Others have to choose the entire geographical unit (blocks, urban wards, districts and States),” noted a Health Ministry official.
He added that the type of additional assistance that may be provided by the donors to on-treatment TB patients who had given consent for support shall include nutritional support, additional investigations, vocational support and additional nutritional supplements.
The minimum period of commitment for providing the support to the TB patient will 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. Ultimately, improved nutrition for 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 26 lakh people contracting the disease and approximately four 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.
Only individual Ni-kshay Mitra can choose the patients from a given health facility
Health Ministry official