Don’t be complacent on nutrition scheme for TB patients, MPs tell Union Health Ministry

by Aditya Kumar

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Welfare has raised concerns over the effectiveness of the Nikshay adoption model in eradicating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025. In its report, the committee acknowledged the power of collective action demonstrated by the scheme but emphasized the need for additional measures to ensure the overall progress of TB elimination.

The Committee expressed worry about a sense of complacency within the ministry and government organizations responsible for implementing the TB elimination program. It noted that the shift in responsibilities to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) could impede the progress made so far.

To address these concerns, the committee suggested a robust selection process for individuals or organizations involved in the program. Additionally, they emphasized the need for an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure diligent fulfillment of the donors’ responsibilities. These measures aim to prevent any potential setbacks in the fight against TB caused by a lack of accountability and complacency.

This report by the parliamentary committee comes on the heels of a groundbreaking study conducted by Indian researchers. The study revealed that providing nutritional support to TB patients can reduce mortality by 35 percent. Furthermore, the food supplement used in the study resulted in an average weight gain of 5 percent over the baseline weight in the patients. Remarkably, a weight gain of at least 5 percent over baseline weight in just two months was associated with a more than 60 percent reduced risk of TB death.

The study also found that 75 percent of patients were able to work at the end of treatment compared to only 3 percent at the time of diagnosis. These findings underscore the importance of addressing the nutritional needs of TB patients for a successful recovery.

The parliamentary committee’s report and the research findings emphasize the need for a multi-faceted approach in tackling tuberculosis. While the Nikshay adoption model has shown promise in harnessing collective action, it cannot be solely relied upon as the mainstay in eliminating TB by 2025.

The government and relevant stakeholders should look into incorporating nutritional support as a vital component of TB treatment. By ensuring that patients receive adequate nourishment, the risk of mortality can be significantly reduced, and patients can recover faster. This approach, coupled with a robust selection process and effective monitoring mechanisms for implementing partners, will increase the likelihood of achieving the target of eradicating TB by 2025.

Ultimately, it is essential for the government and all stakeholders involved to remain vigilant and proactive in the fight against TB. The parliamentary committee’s concerns must be addressed, and additional strategies, such as nutritional support, should be implemented to enhance the effectiveness of the existing interventions. With concerted efforts and comprehensive approaches, it is possible to eliminate TB and alleviate the burden it places on individuals, families, and societies.

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