When people in India become ill, the first person they go to for medical advice is often their local chemist or rural health care provider (RHCP) rather than a qualified doctor, who may be based many miles away and difficult to get to.
That’s why TB Alert India’s PRATAM (Pharmacist and rural healthcare provider TB activism) project in Telangana State, run by TB Alert India with funding from the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, is working closely with these community-based health providers to ensure they recognise the symptoms of TB.
Trusted by, and part of, the communities in which they work, they are perfectly placed to reach people with TB at an early stage, ensuring they can be correctly diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible, reducing the spread of the illness.
Awareness and training
PRATAM identifies chemists and health care providers working with the communities at risk, and after initial awareness raising trains them on TB. In the past year these the project has trained 2622 providers, who have gone on to refer 8,159 people for testing, 918 of whom have been diagnosed with TB and started on treatment.
These chemists and RHCPs also run community awareness meetings on TB, helping people to understand the symptoms of the illness, and what to do if they are worried they might have it. They have reached nearly 40,000 people in the last year alone.
Helping patients through treatment
Not only do PRATAM chemists and RHCPs identify the symptoms of TB and refer people for testing, they also help them to successfully complete their treatment.
Patients who find it hard to stay on their medication can visit these health professionals regularly to take their medication in front of them.
By acting as directly observed treatment (DOT) providers, chemists and RHCPs can really motivate patients to keep on treatment, and follow up with them if they start missing appointments.
Find out how chemist Venkata Swami is helping to save lives