Vikram Patel on TB among the vulnerable: When food is a vaccine

Source– The post is based on the article “Vikram Patel on TB among the vulnerable: When food is a vaccine” published in “The Indian Express” on 30th August 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Social Issues – Issues related to development and management of health

News– Recently, RATIONS study, describing the results of research addressing the effectiveness of food supplementation for patients with TB in 28 public clinics in Jharkhand has been published in the Lancet journal.

What are important findings of the RATIONS study?

The first study observed that a 5% gain in weight in the initial months of food supplementation was associated with a 60 percent reduced risk of dying in case of TB.

The second second study found that providing food to the family members of the infected individual was associated with a 50% reduction in the occurrence of TB infection in these household members.

What are important observations from this study?

The largest declines in TB incidence and mortality in the Western world occurred in the first half of the 20th century, before TB antibiotics had been discovered.

The reason was a massive reduction in poverty in those countries contributing to more hygienic living conditions and secure food supplies.

If food supplementation is effective for TB, then such benefits may be seen across all infectious diseases.

Working on the social determinants of disease through the health care system may offer better outcomes for all diseases associated with deprivation and disadvantage.

What did these studies mean for the India TB programme?

The government has launched the Nikshay Poshan Yojana in 2018 to offer food supplementation or cash transfers to buy food for TB patients.

The RATIONS studies should give renewed impetus to enhance the impact of the scheme by ensuring that food supplementation is delivered with medication. There is need to expand the coverage of this benefit to all household members of the patient.

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