A year after the central government rolled out direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for tuberculosis (TB) patients, aiming to improve their nutrition, Maharashtra has covered 56 per cent of total patients. The scheme, however, faces a hurdle when it comes to the private sector, where doctors do not have patients' bank account details.
Across Maharashtra, there are 2.26 lakh TB patients, of them at least 70,000 get treated in the private sector. So far, 1.26 lakh patients have been provided financial aid.
The DBT scheme was announced in 2018 as part of government's aim to reduce TB rates by 2025. With the disease largely affecting poverty-stricken people living in poorly ventilated homes, government decided to provide regular financial aid to patients to allow them to improve their nutrition. Tuberculosis treatment not only requires drug regime for a year or two, but also needs patient to have a high nutrition diet.
Under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, patients notified to government are slated to receive Rs 500 per month through a cash transfer to their bank accounts. In tribal areas, an additional amount of Rs 750 is provided to patients to compensate for travelling to clinics. Each private doctor is paid Rs 1,000 for notifying a TB patient. "We have covered 90 per cent of patients in the public sector, the problem is reaching out to those in the private sector," said Anup Kumar Yadava, director in-charge of Directorate of Health Services.
A patient is first registered online on Nikshay portal, which is linked to the Public Finance Management System (PFMS). The PFMS facilitates funds transfer to patients' bank accounts. Since January, the Maharashtra government has partnered with PATH to cover 10 urban corporation and 10 rural areas.