New Delhi: Aadhaar has been made mandatory for tuberculosis patients who receive cash assistance from the government and healthcare providers who receive benefits under the scheme. Those who do not have the unique biometric identity yet, have been given time till August 31 to acquire it, the health ministry has said. The number will be linked to Nikshay, the government's database for the health programme on tuberculosis.
Currently, a patient in notified tribal areas gets a one time assistance of Rs 750. Transport support is also provided to patients with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis to travel to a Drug Resistant TB centre. For every patient who successfully completes treatment, there are monetary incentives for health workers and private doctors also. But there is a buzz that the government may increase the budget for the programme and provide more assistance to patients and providers.
The rule came into effect from June 16 -- the day the government announced that Aadhaar will be mandatory for opening bank accounts and for any financial transaction of Rs. 50,000 and above.
The government has already made it mandatory to link Aadhaar to a number of processes -- filing for Income tax returns and obtaining Permanent Account Number or PAN. It is also needed for various social benefits and subsidies offered by the government.
The Supreme Court has offered some relief in cases of Income Tax Returns -- saying the government cannot insist on Aadhaar for those who are yet to have it. In case of tuberculosis patients, the government has said it would make arrangements for easy registration if need be.
Tuberculosis is one of the biggest health challenges India is facing. India has more than a quarter of the world's tuberculosis burden, with an estimated 2.8 million new cases in 2015. The World Health Organisation has said India is one of the six nations which account for 60% of the world's tuberculosis cases.