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Rs 3K cr spent on free meds, tests to 25 lakh TB patients annually: Mandaviya

Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya (Photo: @mansukhmandviya)

The government spends approximately Rs 3,000 crore annually on free medicines, testing, and nutrition for 25 lakh tuberculosis (TB) patients in India, Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya said on Monday.

“Under the Prime Minister’s TB Free India Campaign, every year 25 lakh TB patients of the country are provided free medicines, testing, nutrition etc., in which approximately Rs 3,000 crore is spent annually,” he said in his virtual address to the 5th Foundation Day celebration of National Cancer Institute (NCI) of AIIMS, Jhajjar.

“Apart from this, financial assistance of Rs 500 per month is also given to TB patients, in which Rs 2,756 crore has been paid directly into the accounts of the patients in the last 5 years,” the minister added.

He also highlighted that 10 lakh TB patients of the country are being adopted by service-minded citizens, who are also distributing nutrition to them every month.

India aims to eliminate TB by 2025, five years ahead of the global target of 2030.

Manadaviya also mentioned the Sickle Cell Elimination Programme of the government in which sickle cell screening of about 7 crore people will be done in 3 years and medicines for sickle cell will be made available for free, on which the government will spend about Rs 910 crore.

Further, he noted that to ensure that everyone gets healthcare facilities with the same quality standard, “the government has worked in the last 10 years by linking the health sector with development”.

Mandaviya also lauded the achievements of the Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY and Ayushman Arogya Mandir scheme, which he said has not only saved the lives of crores of people but has also kept them from falling below the poverty line.

“By providing family health insurance of Rs 5 lakh annually to 60 crore people of the country, free treatment for serious diseases has been provided. Under this scheme, today even the poor get their treatment in those hospitals where earlier only rich people used to get their treatment. Till now, more than 6 crore people have received treatment under this scheme, due to which these poor people have saved more than Rs 1,12,500 crore.

“One of the purposes behind establishing over 1.64 lakh Ayushman Arogya Mandirs is to ensure that primary cancer screening is done in the first stage itself. Today, complex operations are being conducted in district hospitals as well,” he added.

The Health Minister also launched the AIIMS-SBI Smart Payment Card, which will ensure hassle-free payments for treatment in AIIMS, New Delhi.

“The AIIMS Smart Payment Card will resolve the long pending issue of patients from far flung areas carrying cash with them to the hospital,” he said.

He added that patients or their caretakers can get the card easily from the facilitation centres across AIIMS, New Delhi and thereafter use it for payment at various counters.