As part of the CII driven Tamil Nadu Roundtable Discussion on Promoting TB Free Workplaces which was convened on 11th December 2020, insights were shared by senior policymakers, public and private providers, diagnostic companies as well as payors.
Dr J Radhakrishnan - Principal Secretary- Health, Government of Tamil Nadu addressed the participants and reflected that often public and media attention is seasonal and disease specific whereas the State needs to focus on developing systems which are capable of dealing with multiple diseases holistically. The growing challenges arise from occurrence of new diseases and newer strains of existing diseases. He highlighted gaps that continue to remain in understanding that TB is completely curable and that often costly and expensive treatment for this is available for free. According to him CIIs role will be critical in bringing about improved sensitisation, especially in workplaces and advocacy. He also emphasised the way forward lay in collaboration rather than competition between the public and private sector. Private sector could support with awareness building, advocacy to communities, diagnosis and then link this population to the Government DOTs initiative. He concluded by reiterating that a cause of greater concern remains when communities and people at large are in denial for largely preventable diseases, which include NCDs that have seen a rapid increase in these years.
Dr Raghuram Rao, Deputy Director, Central TB Division, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare requested the Industry to come forward and support the TB Free Workplaces campaign and suggested that even if ever single company took up the responsibility to talk about/ communicate their information on TB care and management, it would have a huge cumulative impact on realising the PMs vision of significantly reducing TB incidence in India by 2025.
Some important insights that have emerged during these discussions include:
Often lack of adherence to treatment occurs due to mismanagement of Comorbidities among patients. There appears to be a lack of adequate drug intolerance counselling services as well as many patients return to doctors at an advanced stage of having developed Multi Drug Resistance.
Environmental factors that include small enclosed spaces with poor ventilation and recirculation of air create conditions for contracting TB easily.
A three pronged approach of educating, creating awareness and sensitisation on TB helps reduce the stigma attached to it. Access to proper and fast treatment where TB Diagnosed patients receive fast tracked medical supervision will also instill confidence among employees.
Health Insurance especially group insurance covers must be extended to the most vulnerable and the demystification of myths regarding Insurance need to be addressed. This would be a financial tool that infact supports the poorest from being trapped in rural indebtedness.
11 December 2020