One of The Union’s Project Axshya TB forums in Rudraprayag district in the state of Uttarakhand has successfully made x-rays accessible for presumptive tuberculosis (TB) patients in the region. Rudraprayag is a rural hilly district with a population of 250,000, many of whom struggle to access healthcare services for economic reasons and because of the difficult terrain. Until recently, presumptive TB patients had to pay for x-ray facilities, which were only available at the district hospital. The patients had to pay to get to the hospital and then pay for x-rays, which they could rarely afford.
Project Axshya empowers TB patients through local district TB forums, made up of community leaders, TB-affected people and members of civil society organisations. The forums give TB patients a voice with district authorities, and help solve the challenges patients face accessing TB services – such as the access to x-rays in Rudraprayag district.
The Rudraprayag district TB forum identified the economic burden to patients who needed x-rays, and so they raised the issue with the district health authorities. The forum wrote to the Chief Medical Officer and the district TB officer, explaining the economic hardship faced by patients. After much discussion, the district authorities agreed to make x-rays free for presumptive TB patients. Not only will this benefit over 5,000 presumptive TB patients every year who had to pay for x-rays, but it will also encourage more presumptive TB patients to get tested.
The forum is also working to ensure TB patients and their families have strong economic support by training them in income generation activities, like incense and envelope making and. Over 100 TB patients and their family members have benefited from the vocational training and linkage with social welfare schemes in the last year.
Project Axshya, funded by the Global Fund, supports India’s national TB control programme to expand its reach, visibility and effectiveness, targeting marginalised and vulnerable communities in 300 districts in 21 states across India.