Gates Foundation Opens Free TB Medicine Gate to All

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tuberculosis (TB) patients seeking treatment at private hospitals anywhere in the state will no longer have to pay for the expensive drugs. 

At present, only patients registered with government-run healthcare centres have access to the free medicines scheme. Under 'Universal Access to TB Care', a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, all patients will get free drugs at designated chemist shops. 

A pilot project has been launched in Nagpur district where TB patients registered with private doctors have already started availing of the benefit. The state government aims to take charge of the project from the Gates Foundation, which is currently funding the project in Nagpur, and extend it to other districts within a year. 

An approximate 1.2 lakh new TB cases are detected in Maharashtra every year. The number of multi-drug resistant (MDR) cases is about 7,000 and that of extremely drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) cases is around 200. The aim is to ensure patients adhere to the treatment schedule and complete medication. 

State tuberculosis officer Sanjeev Kamble said, "The private sector plays a significant role in healthcare delivery in the country in general and in TB care, in particular. About 50% patients seek treatment at public healthcare centres while the remaining go to private sector doctors. So far, the government has been providing free treatment to patients enrolled only with the government hospitals. We wish to extend the benefit to patients treated by private doctors." 

Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari launched the project, 'Universal Access to TB care' in Nagpur on September 14. "The project's scope is currently limited to Nagpur district. The funding of the pilot project – which is currently pegged at Rs 1.5 crore for a year – is borne by the Gates Foundation. The state will take over the charge and implement it across the state," Kamble said. 


Source: The Times of India (link opens in a new window)

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