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Union govt provides momentum for TB control with Rs. 600 crore booster shot to stall under-reporting & under diagnosis

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Union government is working to give a fresh impetus to speed up its efforts to put an end to the epidemic of Tuberculosis. This is close on the heels of the WHO concerns to tackle epidemic, prevent under-reporting and under diagnosis of TB cases besides close gaps in financing.

This led the Union government to allocate additional Rs. 600 crore to provide nutritional support to all TB patients at the rate of Rs. 500 per month for the duration of their treatment in its Budget 2018. The government viewed that TB claims more lives annually than any other infectious disease affecting mainly poor and malnourished people.

Recently the WHO report signaled the urgent need for greater political commitment to end tuberculosis because the disease continues to be the leading infectious killer. It has reported that for TB care and prevention, investments in low- and middle-income countries fall almost US$ 2.3 billion short of the US$ 9.2 billion needed in 2017. In addition, at least an extra US$ 1.2 billion per year is required to develop new vaccines, diagnostics, and medicines.

"Shortfall in TB funding are one of the main reasons why progress is not fast enough. "We have a double challenge. More domestic funding is needed in middle-income countries, and international donors to support low-income countries,” said Dr Katherine Floyd, Coordinator of WHO’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, Global TB Programme.

According to Ravi Dawar, Director-Finance, BD-India, our government budget is certainly promising for the healthcare sector. Since we are closely working towards eliminating the threat of tuberculosis in the country and extremely happy with its plan to allocate Rs. 600 crore to provide nutritional support to TB patients.

“While the world has committed to end TB epidemic by 2030, actions and investments don’t match the political rhetoric. We need a dynamic, global, multisectoral approach. The first UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB in 2018, will build momentum, get different sectors engaged, and accelerate our efforts to make TB history”, stated Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO.
From an India standpoint the budget is also clearly driving the stated objective of the government to provide Universal Healthcare through its National Health Protection Scheme. The scheme proposes to provide hospitalization cover of Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 10 crore to poor families which roughly translates to around 50 crore people getting hospitalization cover. This is a good step as it will make healthcare affordable to approximately 40% of the population, added Dawar.

Further, we also laud the government’s measures to make healthcare more accessible and upgrading healthcare practices in India through the setting up of 24 medical hospitals and colleges. I believe that overall the budget is good news for the healthcare sector and would create an increased demand for healthcare products and services, he said.

The Government is also paying close attention to life-threatening diseases specifically with the Rs. 600 crore corpus to help TB patients, will help cover more patients said Ameera Shah, promoter and Managing Director, Metropolis Healthcare.


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