Ministry of Health launches community support plans for TB patients

The Ministry of Health is working on an initiative – called Nikshay Mitra – that will allow individuals to adopt TB patients and meet their nutritional and medical needs in a bid to break the stigma surrounding the disease in India.

The ministry has created a digital platform on a public-private partnership on which anyone in India can register.

“The idea is to destigmatize TB diseases and this can only be done through community support, better treatment and care for TB patients by embracing them. The Ministry of Health is planning to launch this massive campaign on Nikshya Mitra in mission mode in the next few days to raise awareness. So far, 5,900 people have declared themselves Nikshay Mitra. This way they can also provide nutritional support, education and counseling to TB patients,” said an official from the Ministry of Health.

With 2.5 million patients, India has the highest TB burden in the world. The government aims to eliminate the disease by 2025. Although it is a preventable and treatable disease, stigma remains a big challenge in India. According to a government report, covid-19 had a major impact on the National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP) as patients stopped coming to hospitals or were unable to come to hospitals due to the pandemic and lockdown.

Last year, India saw a 19% increase over the previous year in the number of TB patients notified: the total number of TB patients (new and relapses) notified in 2021 was 1.93 million against 1.62 million in 2020. , diagnostic, professional and additional nutritional supplements. In addition, they can choose the duration of the support ranging from one to three years. They can also choose state, district, block, health facilities. The District TB Officer will facilitate the process to become Nikshay Mitra,” another Health Ministry official said.

According to a Ministry of Health TB Prevalence Survey (2019-2021), the worst affected states are Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Chhattisgarh.

Dr Vikas Mayura, Head of Respiratory Medicine Department at Fortis Hospital, said: “Yes, definitely there is a stigma among TB patients in our society. If a person suffers from tuberculosis, other individuals cease to approach the patient, they do not take care of it. And among women, the stigma is very high.

“They hide the disease for fear that their daughter will find it difficult to marry. This is a great initiative to accept TB patients and we need to educate people. In addition, comorbid tuberculosis patients are the most vulnerable to fatal risk. We also need to tell people that India has standard medicines for TB and it is curable and continue to follow the full treatment. »

Last year, data was entered for 72% of the total number of patients notified, of whom 7% admitted to drinking alcohol. Similarly, of the 74% of known tobacco use among all TB patients, 12% of TB patients were tobacco users. Among those screened, 30% were referred to smoking cessation services.

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