Background: In March 2018, the Government of India launched a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme to provide nutritional support for all tuberculosis (TB) patients in line with END TB strategy. Here, the money (@INR 500 [~8 USD] per month) is deposited electronically into the bank accounts of beneficiaries. To avail the benefit, patients are to be notified in NIKSHAY (web-based notification portal of India’s national TB programme) and provide bank account details. Once these details are entered into NIKSHAY, checked and approved by the TB programme officials, it is sent to the public financial management system (PFMS) portal for further processing and payment. Objectives: To assess the coverage and implementation barriers of DBT among TB patients notified during April–June 2018 and residing in Dakshina Kannada, a district in South India. Methods: This was a convergent mixed-methods study involving cohort analysis of patient data from NIKSHAY and thematic analysis of in-depth interviews of providers and patients. Results: Of 417 patients, 208 (49.9%) received approvals for payment by PFMS and 119 (28.7%) got paid by 1 December 2018 (censor date). Reasons for not receiving DBT included (i) not having a bank account especially among migrant labourers in urban areas, (ii) refusal to avail DBT by rich patients and those with confidentiality concerns, (iii) lack of knowledge and (iv) perception that money was too little to meet the needs. The median (IQR) delay from diagnosis to payment was 101 (67–173) days. Delays were related to the complexity of processes requiring multiple layers of approval and paper-based documentation which overburdened the staff, bulk processing once-a-month and technological challenges (poor connectivity and issues related to NIKSHAY and PFMS portals). Conclusion: DBT coverage was low and there were substantial delays. Implementation barriers need to be addressed urgently to improve uptake and efficiency. The TB programme has begun to take action.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health