Now, post­men will de­liver bank ac­counts to TB pa­tients

The Hindu Business Line - - FRONT PAGE - MAITRI PORECHA

The friendly neigh­bour­hood post­man will now help tu­ber­cu­lo­sis pa­tients open bank ac­counts.

The Min­istry of Health and Fam­ily Wel­fare (MoHFW) has tied up with In­dia Post Pay­ments Bank (IPPB) to train post­men to help TB pa­tients ac­cess cash sup­port by open­ing bank ac­counts from the com­fort of their homes.

DBT dis­bur­sal

One of the big­gest chal­lenges faced by the MoHFW in dis­burs­ing di­rect ben­e­fit trans­fer (DBT) of ₹500 a month for nu­tri­tion sup­port is the lack of — or in­ac­tive — bank ac­counts of TB pa­tients.

Pi­lot project

To over­come this is­sue, a pi­lot will be ini­ti­ated in up to eight dis­tricts in Delhi, Hi­machal Pradesh and Haryana.

A se­nior MoHFW of­fi­cial said: “After we iden­tify a pa­tient as suf­fer­ing from TB, we will share his/her ad­dress with the IPPB. We will pro­vide the pa­tient with a plas­tic card with a bar code or em­bed­ded QR code.”

The post­man will be asked to visit the pa­tient at the spec­i­fied ad­dress in or­der to open the bank ac­count.

Since TB car­ries some stigma and risk of in­fec­tion, post­men will be trained to take pre­cau­tions while in­ter­act­ing with the pa­tients

The post­man will gen­er­ate a new bank ac­count for the pa­tient after he con­ducts Aad­haar-en­abled val­i­da­tion and log­ging the bio­met­rics of the pa­tient.

“The bank ac­count de­tails will be shared with the Min­istry for trans­fer­ring funds. The plas­tic card with the pa­tient will be trans­formed into an ATM/debit card, which the pa­tient can use for trans­ac­tions. The IPPB has also pro­vided mech­a­nisms for merg­ing dif­fer­ent bank ac­counts of the pa­tient so she/he can use the same ATM card for all trans­ac­tions,” said the of­fi­cial.

Of the 21 lakh es­ti­mated TB pa­tients, 19.6 lakh have re­ceived at least the first in­stal­ment of the DBT of ₹500 per head, adding up to a dis­burse­ment of ₹300 crore from April 2018 till date.

“Around 2.5 lakh pa­tients, how­ever, are slip­ping through the cracks and are un­able to get fi­nan­cial sup­port due to in­ac­tive or no bank ac­counts. The post­men will tar­get this group,” said the of­fi­cial.

The MoHFW rolled out the DBT pro­gramme last April, but was not able to dis­burse funds till Oc­to­ber due to ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues.

Last-mile con­nec­tiv­ity

“It is still strug­gling with last-mile con­nec­tiv­ity and is look­ing for novel so­lu­tions to en­able 100 per cent cov­er­age of DBT for TB pa­tients. Since TB car­ries some stigma and risk of in­fec­tion, post­men will have to be trained to take pre­cau­tions while in­ter­act­ing with the pa­tients,” the of­fi­cial added.

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