New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has missed several targets it had set for 2019 to tackle tuberculosis (TB).
According to a reply given by Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, in Rajya Sabha Tuesday, India has managed to achieve only 6.8 lakh notifications last year — not even half of the set target — from the private sector.
The government had set a target of receiving 18 lakh notifications in 2019.
The notifications from the private sector are important as around 50 per cent of patients with TB are diagnosed and treated in the private sector. However, few of them are usually notified to the public healthcare system, leading to under-reporting of the prevalence of the disease.
The government also failed to achieve its target with regard to the number of patient provider support agencies that it planned to set up at the district level.
Out of the target to establish 100 units in 2019, only 69 were established — posting a shortfall of 31 units.
These targets are part of the National Strategic Plan (2017-25) to eliminate TB from India.
The Modi government aims to rid India of TB by 2025, five years ahead of the target set under the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The other targets
The response by MoS Choubey also highlighted that only 11 per cent private providers received incentives for notifying TB patients to the government under the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme last year, against the target of 80 per cent.
This apart, less than half of treatment supporters, around 41 per cent, were paid incentives through the DBT scheme against the target of 100 per cent, the minister said in the Rajya Sabha.
“The government has partially achieved these targets,” the minister replied, listing the strategies adopted.
India performing well on other parameters
In 2016, a study by The Lancet estimated that over a million tuberculosis cases could be missing from official statistics in India.
ThePrint had reported in January this year that India is on its path to close the gap between the number of tuberculosis cases estimated and those detected, and it could soon find all its “missing million” TB patients.
In 2019, the detection of TB cases in India through notifications reached its highest ever at 23.5 lakh patients, against an estimated 26.9 lakh cases — thanks to the increasing notifications from private sector. However, over 3 lakh TB patients are still “missing”.
The increase in the numbers do not suggest an increase in incidence, but the success of India’s drive to eliminate tuberculosis.
India reported 17.5 lakh TB patients in 2016, 18.5 lakh in 2017 and 21.56 lakh in 2018.