Mumbai: The Maharashtra government does not seem to trust the spouses of patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB), particularly when it comes to availing of cash ‘incentive’ for providing ‘nutritious’ food.
While it is a welcome move to provide incentives to TB patients, ideally the cash should be deposited in the patient’s bank account. And this was indeed the proposal in the Union Budget. But the health authorities faced a big hump: most of the TB patients have a poor-economic background and often do not have bank accounts. Nor do they have an Aadhar card which gives them access to the direct benefit transfer scheme.
So, the government has come up with a ‘weird’ idea. Any TB patient, who is eligible for getting the cash dole, but has no bank account, can take the help of anyone in the family, including his or her children or parents. But he/she cannot seek the help of the spouse (husband or wife)! The cash incentive is Rs 500 per patient; it is not much but it at least guarantees nutritious food and a lifeline to better health. But to bar a TB patient from taking help of the spouse for securing the cash is as bizarre as it gets.
‘‘Since the patients mostly don’t have a bank account, we were facing a major hurdle. So, the rule was revised that any relative with the approval of the patient can get the incentive,” said city’s TB officer Dr Daksha Shah. However, there is no explanation why spouses were left out of the exercise, more so since in most cases they are the care givers.