The Yenepoya (Deemed to be University) in Mangalore and McGill International TB Centre are set to release an android-based app for tuberculosis patients on World Tuberculosis Day on March 24. The app, called N-TB, will let the user calculate his or her body mass index (BMI). If the BMI is very low, the app will red-flag the fact and provide guidance on how to manage severe undernutrition. The app also provides a treatment plan to achieve a desirable weight and recommends the daily caloric and protein intake. It offers counselling tips on diet with an emphasis on the value of locally available foods in contrast to costly nutritional supplements, activity and lifestyle. The app can be downloaded for free on Google Play.
This app, endorsed by the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme and WHO India, was included in the new initiatives unveiled during the Delhi End TB Summit held recently.
Tuberculosis often results in significant weight loss, which can exacerbate underlying undernutrition. Studies in India have shown that 50 per cent of adult men and women with tuberculosis weigh below 42 kg and 38 kg respectively. Studies in rural India have also shown that tuberculosis (TB) patients have life-threatening levels of low BMI. Undernutrition in TB patients has been shown to be a consistent risk factor for death, and this is important in a country like India, where current levels of TB mortality are high with 423,000 deaths due to TB, said Dr Madhukar Pai, associate director, McGill International TB Centre.
The app was developed by Drs. Anurag Bhargava and Madhavi Bhargava. Dr Anurag said undernourished patients are at higher risk of serious side-effects from drugs, poor absorption of drugs, reduced ability to return to work and recurrence of disease after cure.
This year, many states have launched several nutritional support initiatives such as food rations.
The Centre has announced a direct benefit transfer of Rs 500 per month from April 2018 to enable nutritional support for TB patients. All these initiatives will require healthcare providers to be skilled in nutritional assessment and counselling, and the N-TB is the first-of-its-kind app for healthcare providers.