‘Provide direct economic benefits to TB patients’

Survivors Against TB, a group of TB survivors, wrote to JP Nadda, the Union Health Minister, inquiring about the government’s proposed scheme of providing direct economic benefits to TB patients undergoing treatment. This scheme was conceptualised as part of the National Strategic Plan 2017-22 to ensure that TB would not be a cause of increased debt and poverty for TB affected families especially those below the poverty line

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Recent reports in the press indicate that there is delay and possibly resistance within government on providing Direct Benefit Transfers to Tuberculosis (TB) patients. By delaying this scheme, the government is denying the bare minimum economic benefits to TB patients to help them survive this disease. People, who contract TB frequently, experience severe economic barriers to health care, including high expenses as well as loss of income.

According to Survivors Against TB, “Our goal in writing to the Health Minister was to specifically request information on, when the scheme is likely to begin and when the first set of payments will reach the end beneficiaries.”

Survivors Against TB, also requested a clear implementation plan for the scheme. “To ensure effectiveness, we have proposed key parameters for effective monitoring and evaluation of the scheme. These include ease of access, utility of benefit amount and exclusions if any.”

Through this note, Survivors Against TB, urged members to investigate the issue to ensure the government does not delay providing these benefits to TB affected families. As per them, TB thrives in poverty. As, global evidence has shown that poverty and TB are connected. If India is to meet its goal of ending TB by 2025, it needs to address TB related poverty urgently.