All tuberculosis patients to get free medicines

Under the scheme, TB patients, irrespective of whether they are taking the treatment in private set up or government, will be given medication free at pre-identified private chemists under the Universal Access to TB Care programme.

Snehlata Shrivastav | TNN
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NAGPUR: As part of the national target of eliminating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, the state public health department has now added a new scheme for eradication of the dreaded disease.

Under the scheme, TB patients, irrespective of whether they are taking the treatment in private set up or government, will be given medication free at pre-identified private chemists under the Universal Access to TB Care programme.

This project is being implemented on a pilot scale in Nagpur city and Mehsana in Gujarat. For the last three years, the patients were given medicines free from these medical shops and the cost was reimbursed to the chemists by the government. But now the govt will supply these medicines to the shops and give fixed incentives to the pharmacies for storing and distributing them to the patients. The health department has identified over 150 shops in the city for the project.

Dr Sanjeev Kamble, director, public health department, told TOI that the scheme would be implemented from August 1, 2018. Since TB is a notifiable disease, the treating doctor in both government and private sectors will have to notify the government about every patient. ‘Nikshay’ a web-based portal is a specific software developed by the government to monitor TB incidence and will take care of follow-up of patients. Every TB patient in the country will be registered on the website.

An NGO ‘Disha’ has been identified for the follow-up of the patients in private sector. Volunteers from this NGO will call up TB patients to check whether they are taking their medicines properly or not as is done in the national DOTS programme.

Dr KB Tumhane, city TB officer, explained that each doctor treating TB patient is expected to tell the patient about the nearest chemist shop in the area where medicines will be available free of cost. “The medicines will carry the label ‘Not For Sale’ on them so that the chemists don’t charge for the medicines from the patients. Doctors can inform the authorities if any chemist on the government list is not giving medicines to the patients free of cost. The basic purpose of all this is to eliminate TB from India by 2025,” he said.

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