Health camps bring tuberculosis screening services to tribal populations in India

More than 84 remote tribal villages have been reached with tuberculosis (TB) screening in Khunti district, Jharkhand, through the use of health “camps”, or temporary mobile health centres offering health services including TB screening. The Union South-East Asia Office, with funding from the Lilly Foundation and in collaboration with district TB authorities and local NGO Sankal Pajyoti, led this initiative. The model was based on general health camps which have proven effective in reaching remote and sparsely populated regions in India with health information and services.

TB screening is an effective method for identifying people who may not otherwise seek treatment due to misinformation or misunderstanding about their symptoms. It helps ensure that TB is diagnosed early and treatment is initiated as soon as possible, reducing the risk of transmission in the community and improving treatment outcomes for the patients. Screening camps such as these are also effective in raising community awareness about symptoms, prevention and treatment of TB.

The District TB Officer and the rural healthcare providers jointly determine the day and site for each camp. These decisions, though minor, can determine the effectiveness of the visits. The sites are selected in relation with data on where the highest numbers of presumptive TB patients are located and the day of the week is planned around village activities, such as market days, to ensure participants’ availability. Community health workers conduct outreach activities in the days leading up to the event and assist in encouraging presumptive TB patients to provide sputum samples for testing.

In the past year, 21 such screening camps were held in hard-to-reach areas of the Khunti district. More than 1,000 people attended these events, and of the 400 presumptive TB patients tested, 33 were diagnosed and began treatment.

The Project is able to support treatment adherence after a patient is diagnosed by working with the rural healthcare providers who administer the directly observed treatment and assist patients. Through this multi-level collaboration, early diagnosis and early treatment initiation is leading to improved outcomes.

Following the success of this intervention, The Union’s Project Axshya plans to integrate this model into Axshya and extend screening camps to the districts covered. 

Read more about The Union's work in South-East Asia

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