Uttar Pradesh has the highest TB burden in the country, with over 486,000 new cases being reported in 2019. The residents of villages near GAIL’s “Pata Petrochemical complex,” named after a small village Pata in the district Auraiya, have always needed an anchoring entity for community outreach that would link them to the government facilities. Even for TB elimination — right from active case-finding to accurate diagnosis, treatment, counseling, and nutritional support – the community needed hand-holding to access the services offered by the national TB program.
The GAIL (India) Limited, a Maharatna CPSE in Natural Gas value chain and Petrochemical giant, intervened to be the missing link in the region and launched the initiative ‘TB Free Pata’- inspired by a small village named Pata,— literally translating to ‘an address free from TB.’ With a resource commitment of Rs 10 million, GAIL’s project was launched in January 2018, with Wockhardt Foundation as the implementation partner and The Union providing technical support.
The project offers a full spectrum of services from awareness generation, door-to-door case finding through the mobile medical unit, X-ray & CBNAAT testing, accompanied referral & linking confirmed patients with government facilities for treatment and counseling. In addition to these, the program offers a second layer of support to patients: nutritional support in the form of multivitamins, digestive syrups, care, follow-ups and free transportation. Lastly, it also recognizes stigma as a critical issue in TB treatment, and therefore, protects the identity of patients.
The programme’s initial success led to immediate expansion to Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh and Barpeta in Assam in March 2019 on the World TB day with additional resource commitment of Rs 18 million. The project has been recognized by local panchayat representatives as well as government departments for the tremendous health benefits it has reaped for citizens. Since becoming a CTP member, more emphasis has been paid on introducing technology-based interventions and aligning GAIL’s interventions with the national goals.
GAILs multi-layered model encompasses screening, establishing government linkages for TB patients, providing nutrition support, counselling services and ensuring stigma-free services. To overcome the challenge of reaching the unreached patients and increasing access to TB care in India— a well-resourced comprehensive and bold model that supports the patients end to end has proven to be successful in the rural areas. Learnings from this tested methodology may further be useful to target other health challenges of remote rural areas of the country, especially immediately in handling/ containing pandemic of COVID-19.