In an effort to provide nutritional support for patients with multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extremely drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis, as well as combat low body weight, a classic symptom of the disease, the state government has allocated Rs 15 crore.
Malnourished persons are up to four times more likely to develop TB than healthy people as it weakens resistance to the TB bacillus, said Dr Sanjeev Kamble, joint director of health services, TB, Maharashtra.
On March 24 last year, on the occasion of World TB Day, the Centre had released guidelines on nutritional care and support for TB patients.
The latest step towards fighting TB comes after the government’s earlier effort under the ‘Arogyavardhini’ project — when it provided ready-to-eat food packets for patients resistant to TB drugs — did not fetch a positive response in Mumbai.
As per the current plan, the Rs 15 crore will be distributed among 22 municipal corporations in the state, with Mumbai, which has a large number of MDR and XDR TB cases, receiving the highest amount of Rs 4 crore.
Of the 6,527 MDR-TB patients in Maharashtra, 4,007 are in Mumbai, and 193 are in Pune city, Pimpri Chinchwad and rural areas. Of the 619 XDR-TB patients, as many as 361 are from Mumbai while 37 are from Pune.
While the ‘Arogyavardhini’ project had shira and upma among its ready-to-eat food items, the authorities are now considering three new options. The first option would include ragi, bajra, jowar, milk powder and groundnut, the second option would include ragi, bajra, jowar, groundnut and edible oil, and the third option would include pulses and edible oil, along with ragi and bajra, said Kamble.
“We have directed all municipal corporations to invite tenders and roll out nutritional support packets for MDR and XDR TB patients,” he said. The state has a total of 1.75 lakh TB patients.