Union Budget 2018: Govt allocates Rs 600 crore for nutritional support to tuberculosis patients

New Delhi: In an attempt to achieve its goal of tuberculosis elimination, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday allocated Rs 600 crore for nutritional support to TB patients in India. Presenting the Union Budget 2018in the Parliament, Jaitley announced the allocation of Rs 1,200 crore for specialised health and wellness centres.

“TB remains the top infectious killer in 2016. TB is also the main cause of deaths related to antimicrobial resistance and the leading killer of people with HIV,” it said.

“A sum of Rs 600 crore has been allocated for the nutritional support of the TB patients,” said Jaitley, in his budget speech for fiscal 2018-19. Read: Union Budget 2018 – National Health Scheme to provide Rs 5 lakh cover to 10 crore families

“Rs 500 will be provided to each of the TB patients in the country undergoing treatment,” said Jaitley.

Tuberculosis, which remains to be a major health condition that affects most Indians, is a preventable, airborne infectious disease. In 2016, TB killed 423,000 people in India.

Earlier, the Global TB Report 2017 released by the WHO last October revealed India topped the list of seven nations, accounting for 64 percent of the 10.4 million new TB cases worldwide in 2016.

Increasing its focus on tuberculosis, the government had earlier, in March 2017, renewed its fight against the disease with the release of the National Strategic Plan for Elimination of Tuberculosis. The plan is to reduce the incidence of TB from 217 new cases per 100,000 in 2015 to fewer than 44 new cases by 2025. As part of this plan, funding for TB prevention and care doubled from $280 million in 2016 to $525 million in 2017.

Further, the government changed the TB treatment drug regimen – from multiple drugs at a time to a single daily dose in a fixed-dose combination. Daily doses are considered more effective than alternate day doses of several pills recommended earlier.

Further, the government started rolling out universal drug sensitivity testing for all TB patients to detect drug resistance to rifampicin, the main anti-TB drug. This will be aided by the increase in the number of cartridge-based Nucleic Acid Amplification Test machines which help detect drug-resistant TB.

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