Aasara means ‘support’ in Hindi, which is the essence of TB Alert India’s project to provide nutritional support to help people with TB complete their treatment. The Janssen funded AASARA project began in August 2016 in the cities of New Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai, and has so far reached over 1,000 people.
Treatment for TB is long and often comes with unpleasant side effects, and people may face financial hardship resulting from their illness. These factors combine to leave people unable or unwilling to take their medication. Yet this comes with the risk of drug-resistance, death and onward transmission of TB.
Food for life
Good nutrition is important to help lessen side effects from TB treatment and to speed recovery. TB Alert India’s research has also found that many patients prioritise work over treatment, in order to feed their family. So, by providing nutritional support to the patient and their family, the AASARA project addresses many barriers to treatment at once.
The project provides direct nutritional support to the neediest in the form of high protein and high vitamin foods, such as rice, chickpeas, groundnuts, oil and soya flour. Patients and their families also learn about the importance of good nutrition and treatment adherence.
- In New Delhi, 288 patients have received nutritional support from the project. Of these, 212 have completed their treatment successfully, and the remaining 76 continue to engage with their treatment.
- In Hyderabad, 562 patients are receiving nutritional support from the project and 1,062 patients received nutrition training.
- In Chennai, 352 patients have received nutritional supplements; of these 56% have seen a welcome increase in their weight whilst another 43% have maintained their weights.