By: A N M Al Imran, mHealth Specialist, TB CARE II Bangladesh
Mr. Nizamul Islam serves as TB CARE II’s district coordinator in Chittagong district, Bangladesh. One of his responsibilities is distributing allowances to MDR TB patients and DOT providers in the district. Through TB CARE II, MDR TB patients receive allowances – small monetary payments – to help them buy extra food to support good nutrition during their treatment. DOT providers receive allowances to cover the costs of transportation and communication during their follow up visits with patients. During the early phase of the project, it was easy for Nizamul to visit the individual patients and DOT providers to hand out their allowances. However, as the TB CARE II project expanded and enrolled more TB patients in Chittagong, it became more and more difficult for Nizamul to provide these allowances on a regular basis – sometimes it took a month to reach all of the patients and providers. This unexpected delay in distribution threatened the nutritional status of MDR TB patients who relied on these allowances to cover their food costs.
To address this challenge, TB CARE II, in partnership with Dutch-Bangla Bank, Ltd. (DBBL), started sending allowances directly to patients and providers via mobile banking services in November 2013. The mobile banking system has made life easier not only for the patients and providers, who can now access their funds with a quick visit to an ATM or banking agent, but also for Nizamul, who can now devote his time to ensuring effective coordination of TB activities in Chittagong.
TB CARE II currently provides support to 426 patients and 312 DOT providers through the mobile banking system.