Advocacy efforts for improving TB services in Tamil Nadu

Civil society organizations, TB forum members, the State NGO Network and Partners working in different districts of Tamil Nadu under Project Axshya and Partnership for TB Care and Control in India met recently in Chennai to discuss the current scenario of Tuberculosis programme in Tamil Nadu and the challenges faced at grass root level for providing services to the TB patients. The meeting was coordinated and facilitated by The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and REACH.

The participants pledged to provide all necessary support in strengthening TB control programme in the state. They also drafted a memorandum which was later submitted to the Health Minister and Health Secretary of Tamil Nadu Government, as well as others involved with TB control. The memorandum requested for immediate government action for:

  • Involvement of NGOs as equal and active partners in the state TB Control programme at all levels and provision of funds to the NGOs under various RNTCP schemes.
  • Formation of a TB task force committee at State and District levels and all stakeholders to participate in the quarterly review meetings at district levels
  • Provision of Nutritional Support to TB patients from the existing government nutritional schemes; and financial assistance of Rs.2000/- per month to all TB patients during the full course of treatment period
  • Addressing the shortage/non availability of drugs (like streptomycin injections and rifampicin) for TB treatment
  • Strict implementation of the Government of India orders on (i) ban of serological test for TB, which is still rampant in the private sector and (ii) notifying every case of TB
  • Use of untied fund provided under Village Health & Sanitation Committee (VHSC) formed under NRHM towards travel cost of TB patients coming for sputum examination and treatment
  • Appointment of full time RNTCP staff on a priority basis to ensure patient friendly services and filling up of all vacant posts in the State TB cell and State training & demonstration centre (including those of District Tuberculosis Control Officers, Lab technicians and TB Health Visitors)
  • Timely disbursement of incentives to the community DOTS providers
  • Ensuring proper functioning of microscopes in all District Microscopy Centres
  • Addressing childhood TB for early diagnosis and proper treatment

Let us hope that all state governments across the country (including Tamil Nadu) will strengthen the hands of the Central TB Division of India by showing the political will to tackle the menace of this dreaded disease through proper implementation of RNTCP guidelines for TB control.

Citizen News Service - CNS
March 2013