With a sharp focus on the eradication of tuberculosis in India, the Narendra Modi government is planning to launch a scheme to support the nutritional requirements of patients suffering from the deadly disease, News18.com has learnt.
Driven primarily by the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the scheme has tentatively been named Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyan (PMTBMB) under which financial contributions from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), private sector corporates or even individuals will be encouraged to support dietary requirements of TB patients.
Under the scheme, an individual or a corporate house, NGOs, elected representatives, political parties, institutions or others can decide to become “Nikshay Mitra” which means “a good friend” and adopt a TB patient or patients.
Once adopted, these friends will take responsibility for providing nutritional support to these TB patients and provide them with a decided list of diet plans.
The fulcrum of the scheme rests on the logic that the recovery of patients becomes slow or unachievable if they are not provided with a nutritional diet.
“The scheme aims to provide patients with nutritional support, which eventually will help India achieve the deadline of eliminating TB from the country, five years earlier than the global target,” an official quoted above said.
PM Modi, in 2018, had announced that India would totally eliminate TB by 2025, a good five years ahead of the global deadline set for 2030 and reiterated the same while addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in 2019.
According to the Global TB Report of 2021, India is the top contributor — at 24% — among the 10 countries that collectively account for 74% of the global gap between estimated TB incidence and the number of people newly diagnosed with TB and reported.
India also features on all three World Health Organization (WHO) global lists of high-burden countries for TB, HIV-associated TB, and Multi-Drug Resistant or Rifampicin-resistant TB to be used by the WHO for the period 2021-2025.
How will the scheme work?
Under the scheme, the indicative list of nutrition — which includes 3.5 kg cereals, 1 litre of cooking oil, 1.5 kg pulses, milk powder, eggs, fruits, and vegetables among other things — will be given to the donors to supply to TB patients every month.
The scheme is likely to be launched by PM Modi any time between August 20 and August 24 in a virtual event.
“The final dates are yet to be fixed by PMO. The ministry’s suggestion on launch day was anywhere between August 14 and 17. However, PMO decided to launch it a week later,” a senior official from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told News18.com.
“The idea of the scheme was shared by Anandi Ben Patel, governor of Uttar Pradesh, with Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. The health minister, in turn, appreciated the idea and discussed it further with PM Modi during the review meeting.”
Of 13.5 lakh TB patients, 9 lakh ready to receive support: Govt data
Last month, PM Modi took the review meeting on the status of TB elimination in India, a second source privy to the development told News18.com.
“PM Modi was happy with the progress and also showed excitement in launching the scheme. The work on the scheme has already begun and enrolments have been going on. However, it is expected to pick up momentum once PM inaugurates it,” the second official said.
According to government data, there are around 13.5 lakh TB patients in India, of which almost nine lakh have given consent to receive support from ‘Nikshay Mitras’.
Data shows that so far, 447 individuals, 122 NGOs, 29 corporates, 19 institutions, 18 elected representatives, 10 political parties and four co-operatives have consented to adopt the patient (or patients) for the duration of one year.