Covid pushes TB sufferers to brink

Vishav Bharti

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7

The Covid outbreak seems to have left tuberculosis patients in the lurch as more than 45,000 persons suffering from the disease have failed to get nutritional support from the government.

Under the “Nikshay Poshan Yojana” (national nutritional support scheme), each notified TB patient gets a nutritional support of Rs 500 per month. The assistance is given till the patient is on anti-TB treatment. The scheme is registered under the Direct Benefit Transfer.

In Punjab, there are 45,000 patients enrolled under the Tuberculosis Control Programme. However, none of them has received nutritional support for the past four months. Dr Jastej Singh, in-charge, state TB Control Programme, accepted that the beneficiaries had not been extended the financial assistance for the past few months due to some issues related to the budget. “We have taken up the issue with the authorities concerned. The financial assistance will be transferred soon,” he said.

Three years ago, the Centre had in the National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis recorded that the nutritional aspect was the key to eliminate TB. When most of the states were providing nutrition in the form of this additional food basket, Punjab was hailed as the only state that linked nutrition support with the Public Distribution System.

Not just the nutritional support, the entire Tuberculosis Control Programme in the state seems to have gone for a toss amid the pandemic as the number of newly diagnosed patients seeking treatment in hospitals has come down to just 70 per cent against the target.

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