Gangtok, 24 Mar:
Sikkim Drug Users Forum, a group which represents people who use drugs, people living with Viral Hepatitis, HIV and TB across State, has thumbed down the program implementation of the TB programme by the State Government. Their message was released on the occasion of World TB Day, today.
Tsewang Bhutia, Convener for TB and Viral Hepatitis, Sikkim Drug Users’ Forum, in a press statement issued today, listed out a charter of 20 aspects in which the government was failing the TB patients and survivors in the State [see box for details].
The Forum has expressed “disappointment and shame” with the Health Department, the political leadership for its hollow claims of eradicating TB by 2022 and contends that poor implementation of the TB programme, poor diagnostic facilities, ineffective drugs etc have instead led to many families having lost members to TB.
“We are ashamed to say that Sikkim State TB program is in completely in bizarre state, when the goal is set to be achieved by 2022, we the Sikkim Drug Users’ Forum appeal and demand that the Govt. of Sikkim, Health Department to re-look the guidelines and start working for the people living with TB and families who has suffered from very long time, work to protect more TB related suicidal deaths, reach-out to the people who needs to put people in treatment,” the statement appeals.
SDUF underlines that the TB programme should not be run just for show and that it was the right of the people to receive better health and diagnostic services and better drugs to get cured from TB and not die unfortunate deaths.
“No program has ever succeeded if the people who are affected are not engaged in the program designing and program implementation, period!” the statement points out.
As for the observance of World TB Day, SDUF members living with TB and TB survivors held a community outreach program at Jeewan Marg Rehabilitation Center.
“And we as a community forum strongly voice against the poor program implementation of the TB programme in the Sikkim by Government of Sikkim,” they reiterated.
As per the SDUF, Sikkim TB Cell, Health Department, is lacking in the following areas:
Delay of nutritional support INR. 500 (GOI) & INR. 2500 (GOS) to the TB patients.
Conditional INR. 2500 (nutritional support) from the State Government.
No proper guideline developed by the Health Department of Sikkim to end TB by 2022.
No proper psychological and counseling support to the MDRTB patients.
Lack of human resource in State TB cell and District TB cell.
NO IEC materials being developed for the TB awareness.
Active TB case findings.
Prevention of new TB infection.
No proper plans to prevent high mortality rates in Sikkim.
No program to address stigma and discrimination attached to TB.
No enough necessary resources sanctioned by the government of Sikkim to achieved the commitment of ending TB by 2022.
Poor filed services to the people who live in far-flung areas.
Poor engagement of the people living with TB (communities) in-terms of implementation of TB programme in State.
No diagnostic facility for drug sensitivity test in the state.
No better drugs for the MDRTB and XDRTB patients.
No studies and research has been conducted to control TB related suicide deaths in State.
Formation of District TB committee and TB forum in state is being delayed from many years.
Lack of political will and necessary resources to end TB by 2022.
Poor awareness building among the mass and people living with TB and people affected.
No program or support toTB affected families from catastrophic cost.
SDUF, it is informed, is the only State-level organization of its kind in Sikkim.