Delhi ; Seeking to reach out to tuberculosis patients, the govt on Thursday said that it will launch a toll-free helpline, whereby even a missed call would suffice to connect them with the health programme against the disease.
“We will use the mobile and telecommunication technology and provide platform to suspected patients to call us on a toll-free number seeking help and guidance. Even a missed call will suffice.
“Based on the call received, our team will reach the person who had made the call, check his or her status of TB and ensure the persons is covered in the programme to get correct diagnosis, free drugs, treatment and follow up. The missed call campaign will reflect a pro-active approach,” Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda said in New Delhi on Thursday.
He added that for the making the missed call programme successful, training and capacity building in the states will have to be undertaken before it is formally launched.
Launching the ‘TB Free India’ initiative in New Delhi, Nadda said India accounts for nearly 25 percent of the TB patients in the world and reaching out to nearly a third of them is a major impediment.
Pitching for greater media advocacy for TB awareness, Nadda emphasised on greater cooperation in eradicating the disease from the country before 2020.
He said, resources will not be a constraint in combating the disease. Referring to the eradication of polio from the country, Nadda said, it was important “To do polio to TB”.
For effective combating, he said, the government will ensure 90 percent coverage of BCG (vaccine) under ‘Mission Indradhanush’.
“Our aim is to diagnose all TB cases within 2 weeks of symptoms and refer them to the nearest public health centre. For this purpose, extensive use of rapid diagnostic kits and active screening of high-risk population shall be done.
“We will work to achieve matched international cure rates for MDR and XDR TB. It is important to have a rigorous follow up of treatment and ensure free treatment at the doorsteps,” Nadda added.
Emphasising on the ‘Make in India’ campaign, the minister said, it was important to encourage research in new drugs and new drug regimes.
“We will have schemes to incentivise patients to help complete therapy. We will also be working in coordination with other ministries to ensure linking of TB patients and their families to various welfare schemes of the government so that the earning of these families increase and thus they have nutritional support which will enhance the immunity status of each member of the family,” Nadda added.
The programme was held in the presence of representatives from the USAID, WHO, International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, World Bank and several other organisations.