Till date, only 18,994 out of the 148,420 patients being treated under the central government’s ‘Nikshay Poshan Yojana’ to aid Tuberculosis (TB) patients with nutritional support have received it, according to the state health department. Under this scheme, NGOs, corporates and individuals are expected to nutritionally adopt TB patients to stop further spread of the disease. Thus far however, the scheme has garnered minimal response from the community.
Dr Ramji Adkekar, joint director (TB), state health services, said that nutritional support is crucial among TB patients. “Nutritional support ensures that patients build immunity which in turn helps them respond to the TB treatment better. Maharashtra stands second to Gujarat in supporting the maximum number of patients under the scheme. With better nutrition and treatment, we can make sure that TB transmission is curbed thereby reducing the burden of cases.”
The ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW), Government of India, has implemented a national strategic plan with the goal to ‘End TB by 2025’.
“The objective of these ‘NI-kshay Mitras’ is to provide additional patient support to improve treatment outcomes of TB patients and augment community involvement in meeting India’s commitment to end TB by 2025. The donors shall provide additional support to all consented TB patients in the selected block/ward or district. The type of additional assistance that may be provided by the donors to the consented TB patients shall include nutritional support or any form of assistance that shall reduce out-of-pocket expenditure for the TB patient and his/her family. The support may also include vocational support,” said Adkekar.
The monthly food basket provided to patients under the scheme ensures that adult patients get at least 3 kg of cereals and millets, 1.5 kg of pulses, 250 gm of vegetable cooking oil, 30 eggs every month, and 6 litre of milk. Similar nutritional support is also extended to children affected with TB as well.
According to health officials, support is given voluntarily by the ‘NI-kshay Mitras’. The number of people who have registered with the Maharashtra health department have done so voluntarily. “We encourage corporates and NGOs to come forward and nutritionally adopt these patients,” said Dr Adkekar.