The health ministry is working on a programme called Nikshay Mitra that would allow people to adopt Tuberculosis patients and take care of their dietary and medical requirements in an effort to remove the stigma associated with the disease in India.
The government has developed a public-private partnership digital portal where anyone in India may register.
“The goal is to de-stigmatize tuberculosis infections, which can only be accomplished via community support, improved treatment, and care for TB patients through adoption.” The health ministry intends to start a huge public awareness campaign on Nikshya Mitra in the coming days. So far, 5,900 people have identified themselves as Nikshay Mitra.
“By doing so, they will be able to give nutritional support, education, and counselling to TB patients,” a health ministry official explained. India has the world’s greatest TB burden, with 2.5 million cases.
The government hopes to have the illness eradicated by 2025. Although it is a preventable and curable condition, stigma remains a significant barrier in India. According to a government investigation, covid-19 had a significant influence on the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP) since people stopped coming or were unable to access hospitals owing to the epidemic and lockdown.
Last year, India had a 19% rise in TB patient reporting over the previous year—the total number of TB patients (new and relapse) notified in 2021 was 1.93 million, up from 1.62 million in 2020.
Nikshay Mitra has the option of receiving nutritional, diagnostic, vocational, and supplementary nutritional supplement help. Aside from that, consumers may select a support period ranging from one to three years. They can also select a state, district, block, or health facility. Another health ministry official stated, “The district TB officer will help the process of becoming Nikshay Mitra.”
The worst-affected states, according to a health ministry TB prevalence survey (2019-2021), include Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh.
“Yes, there is stigma among TB patients in our community,” said Dr Vikas Mayura, director of the respiratory medicine department at Fortis Hospital. When someone has tuberculosis, other people stop approaching them and do not care for them. And the stigmatisation of women is far higher.
“They conceal the condition out of fear that their daughter may have problems finding a husband.” Accepting TB patients is a great step forward, and we must educate the public. Furthermore, individuals with co-morbid TB are more prone to death. We must also inform them that TB is curable in India and that they must finish the entire course of therapy.”
Last year, data was collected for 72 percent of all reported patients, with 7 percent admitting to alcohol use. Similarly, 12 percent of TB patients were reported to be tobacco users, despite the fact that 74 percent of all TB patients were known to use tobacco. Thirty percent of individuals examined were referred to cigarette cessation assistance.
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