PM says time to change approach to eradicate the disease
‘TB-free India by 2025’
New Delhi, Mar 13:Launching the TB-free India campaign to eradicate the disease by 2025, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said global efforts to eliminate tuberculosis have not been successful and stressed on changing the approach to achieve the goal.
Modi said the government is moving ahead with the principle of "treat every TB patient best at the very first opportunity" and is roping in the private sector as well.
He also called for multi-sectoral engagement and participation of all stake-holders at every level to create "TB-free village, panchayat, district and state", noting that frontline TB physicians and workers can make a major contribution in this direction.
Holding that tuberculosis impacts lives, economy and the future of a nation, he said it is the poor who are worst affected by this communicable disease and every step taken towards eradicating tuberculosis is directly connected to their lives.
The prime minister was speaking at the inauguration of the Delhi End-TB Summit here.
Modi said the World Health Organisation had declared tuberculosis an emergency 25 years ago and since then several countries have made efforts to eliminate the disease.
"But the ground reality still remains that we have not been successful in curbing tuberculosis yet. If something doesn't yield desired results even after 10-20 years, then we need to change our approach and analyse the work done, which could help in finding new paths," Modi said.
He launched the TB-free India campaign to take the activities under the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination forward in a mission mode for eradicating the disease by 2025.
"A target has been set to end TB globally by 2030. I would like to announce that we have set aim to eradicate it from India five years ahead, by 2025," Modi said.
State governments have a major role to play in elimination of TB from India, the prime minister said, adding he has written to all chief ministers to join this mission.
The National Strategic Plan to eradicate TB by 2025 is operational and the government is constantly increasing budget for the schemes to counter the disease, he said.
"The government has made a provision of spending USD 100 million per annum for providing nutrition support to the patients suffering from disease," he said.
Listing out the steps taken by his government, Modi said flagship programmes like Swachch Bharat Abhiyan and providing LGP connections for a "smokeless kitchen" under Ujjwala Bharat Yojana will also reduce the dangers of contracting the disease.
The prime minister said his government's thrust has been on technology and innovation in this field to better the drugs, diagnosis and treatment of the disease and to boost research, India TB Research Consortium has also been set up.
Noting that TB is associated with social stigma and patients often hesitate to reveal their disease, Modi said that willpower is very critical to win over the disease.
Targeting the previous governments, Modi said the immunisation programme has been going on for the last 30-35 years and despite this the country could not achieve the target of a complete coverage till 2014.
"The pace of the immunisation coverage earlier was inching ahead by just a percent. Had we continued at with the same pace, it would have taken us another 40 years to achieve the target.
"However, in the last 3 to 3.5 per years it has increased by 6 per cent and by the next year, we will achieve 90 per cent immunisation coverage," he said
He also urged the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to expand the ambit of research of traditional medicine in curing tuberculosis and share the results with other nations.
Leaders from across the globe have converged in the national capital for the summit, hosted by the Union Ministry of Health along with the WHO and the Stop TB Partnership.
TB was responsible for 1.7 million deaths in 2016, despite most cases being curable while over 10 million people contract TB every year.
The summit would set the stage for the September 2018 United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB, where for the first time, TB would be discussed in the UN General Assembly at the Heads of State level.