Under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Aadhaar has been made compulsory for tuberculosis patients and health providers seeking cash assistance under a central programme. Through a web page application Nikshay, the revised programme can be administered online. It is mandatory for all government and private healthcare providers to register TB patients using Nikshay, reported Scroll.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a notification on June 16 and highlighted that those eligible to receive conditional case assistance using Nikshay will need Aadhaar.
Deputy Director General of Central TB Division, Dr Sunil Khaparde said, “we want to ensure that the patient identity number [in Nikshay] is linked with Aadhaar identity number. Otherwise, there are double or triple entries in our database of the same patient. So when the patient comes for treatment, they should come with Aadhaar”.
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However, if the patients are not enrolled under Aadhaar, they must apply for Aadhaar in order to provide the enrollment slip along with other documents by August 31.
Chairperson of the Global Coalition of TB Activists, Blessina Kumar, while talking about the decision said that the linking of Aadhaar would create yet another barrier in accessing the much-needed care for TB patients.
“We have 1,400 deaths a day because of TB,” she said. “We need to be removing hurdles, not adding them,” she said to Scroll.
Defending the government’s decision, Khaparde said: “There is no question of denying treatment to any patient. Whoever does not have an Aadhaar can apply for it while the treatment is on too”.
He added that a proposal of providing Rs 3,000 for every TB patient under this programme is pending with the government. In order to avail the scheme, the patients will have to provide Aadhaar linked bank accounts.
“The Aadhaar linkage will make cash transfers more transparent”
The other beneficiaries include private healthcare providers who notify the disease with the government and Directly Observed Treatment Short-course or DOTS providers.
TB affects marginalised populations of society, mostly people living in crowded urban localities, HIV patients and tribal populations.
Doctors said that often patients are migrated labourers who do not have all documents in place. Some patients do not even have a ration card.
Dr Yogesh Jain, one of the founder member of the nonprofit Jan Swasthya Sahyog in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh said that government should have piloted linking Aadhaar to the TB programme in a small area to assess its impact and to see if patients are being denied treatment.
Sunil Kharparde, however, said that linking the Aadhaar number with the Nikshay identity number of the patient would avoid duplication of records of patients.
“We have seen that often patients will first go to private sector, and then the public sector for TB treatment. We will now encourage people coming to us to get Aadhaar. This way the system will be foolproof,” he added.