With a strong emphasis on tuberculosis eradication in India, the Narendra Modi government is planning to launch a scheme to support the nutritional needs of patients suffering from the deadly disease.
The scheme, which is being driven primarily by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, has been tentatively named Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyan (PMTBMB), and will encourage financial contributions from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), private sector corporates, and even individuals to support the dietary requirements of TB patients.
Under the scheme, an individual or a corporate entity, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), elected representatives, political parties, institutions, or others can choose to become “Nikshay Mitra,” which translates as “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 announced in 2018 that India would completely eradicate tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, five years ahead of the global deadline of 2030, and reiterated the same in 2019 while addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
According to the Global TB Report 2021, India is the top contributor — at 24% — among the ten countries that account for 74% of the global gap between estimated TB incidence and the number of people newly diagnosed with TB and reported.
India also appears on all three World Health Organization (WHO) global lists of high-burden countries for tuberculosis, HIV-associated tuberculosis, and multi-drug resistant or rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis to be used by the WHO from 2021 to 2025.
How will the scheme work?
The scheme requires donors to supply TB patients with an 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.
PM Modi is expected to launch the scheme in a virtual event between August 20 and August 24.
“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 approximately 13.5 lakh TB patients in India, with nearly nine lakh consenting to receive assistance from ‘Nikshay Mitras.’
According to data, 447 individuals, 122 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), 29 corporations, 19 institutions, 18 elected representatives, 10 political parties, and four cooperatives have agreed to adopt the patient (or patients) for a year.