TB-free India a distant reality for rural UP population struggling with recurrent TB and expensive private healthcare
Under the Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP), a patient is given an identification card that tracks their site of infection, severity and treatment course, ‘notifying’, or adding them onto a national database. In 2018, over 4.2 lakh patients were notified in Uttar Pradesh, the highest in the country. Between 1 January and 15 March of this year alone, over 68,000 people have been notified in the state.
Suicide of a TB patient due to lack of affordable treatment in Bundelkhand, brings to light the severe shortcomings of the rural healthcare system
Provided to the poor free of charge, at least on paper, the execution of the programme in rural spaces has severe shortcomings. ASHA workers – the official point of contact between the people and the state machinery, and essentially the backbone of the government’s TB control programme – are usually more driven to achieve impressive numbers, rather than facilitating comprehensive treatment. Many of them do not even care to visit the smaller, remote villages and hamlets that come under their jurisdiction, often leaving the poorest of the poor at the mercy of their own fates.