[Answered] Highlight the steps taken by the government to make India TB-free by 2025. What more is required to be done?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some steps taken by the government to make India TB-free by 2025. Also write some additional measures to achieve this target.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious airborne bacterial disease. According to WHO’s Global TB report 2021, with 25.9 lakh TB cases, India is home to 25% of the global tuberculosis cases. The National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP) aims to strategically reduce TB burden in India by 2025.

Steps taken by the government:

  • A range of forward-looking policies have been implemented including critical schemes such as Ni-kshay Poshan Yojana (NPY), which helped meet the nutritional requirements of TB patients, especially the underserved.
  • Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres are established to decentralize comprehensive primary healthcare including TB care services at the grassroots level.
  • Initiated strategies to engage the community and create a Jan Andolan to reach out to the underserved and marginalized and support patients in accessing care.
  • Creation of Patient Support Groups (PSGs) to facilitate conversations between patients, doctors and their caregivers to address common issues in treatment.
  • Using Information Technology (IT) tools for monitoring the programme and treatment adherence.
  • Incentives to private providers for following the standard protocols for diagnosis and treatment as well as for notifying the government of cases.
  • Patients referred to the government receive a cash transfer to compensate them for the direct and indirect costs of undergoing treatment and as an incentive to complete treatment.

What more can be done?

  • Poverty and malnutrition are two main reasons for TB. Elected representatives need to ensure steps for the eradication of these.
  • There is an urgent need for cost-effective point-of-care devices that can be deployed for TB diagnosis in different settings across India.
  • Service delivery should be optimised so that the diagnostics and drugs reach to people who need them the most.
  • There is a need to aggressively scale up testing with innovative strategies such as active surveillance, bidirectional screening for respiratory tract infections using the most sensitive molecular diagnostics, and contact tracing.
  • The government must ensure that social security programmesare duly implemented. They work towards prevention of modifiable risk factors like malnutrition, poverty etc.
  • There is also a need to consider telemedicine and remote support as important aspects of health services that could play a pivotal role in early detection and treatment.

Collective effort is desired at local, national and international level to attain SDG 3.3 which aims to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases by 2030.

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