Jan Andolan being planned for TB –free India by 2025: Dr. Harsh Vardhan

The Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan addressing the Stop TB Partnership meet, through video conferencing in New Delhi on March 18, 2021. (PIB)

New Delhi: Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, on Thursday said that a nationwide Jan Andolan is being planned for TB –free India by 2025.

He said this on Thursday while virtually addressing Stop TB Partnership meet. The meeting gains additional importance in the run up to World TB Day celebrations on 24th March, 2021.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who is also Chairman of Stop TB Partnership Board, termed TB as a critical health challenge in India and said this has prompted Indian leadership to target its elimination by 2025.

“Tuberculosis continues to be one of India’s most critical health challenges which may have devastating health, social and financial consequences for the patients and communities at large. With an estimated 2.64 million TB patients, India has the largest burden of TB globally in terms of absolute numbers.”

Dr Harsh Vardhan enunciated on the giant strides taken by India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight TB in the country.

“Over the past few years, we have significantly ramped up India’s diagnostic capacity for TB. Our National TB Elimination Programme has advanced leaps and bounds in the services being provided for TB. The National Program deployed all possible efforts to ensure uninterrupted TB services across the country,” a government press release quoted the minister as saying.

The Union Health Minister added that “We now have at least one rapid molecular diagnostic facility available in each district and are aiming to decentralize it down to the block level. We have introduced All Oral Regimens and newer drugs for effective treatment of Drug Resistant TB. Our health systems not only focus on the detection and treatment of TB disease, but also try to address all co-morbidities and social determinants of the TB patients and working rigorously towards prevention of the disease.”

“In the last three years, around 137 million USD has been disbursed as Direct Benefit Transfer for nutritional support to TB patients,” he added.

On the challenges faced by India’s TB Elimination Program during the Pandemic, Dr. Harsh Vardhan spoke on the Rapid Response Plan that was developed and shared with all States/UTs. Bi-directional screening of TB and COVID was initiated to aid in case of finding of both the diseases with 24% of the TB patients having knowledge of their COVID-19 status in 2020.

The Union Health Minister stated India has taken a bold and ambitious decision for a TB-free India five years ahead of the global target, in 2025. “We are planning an extensive nationwide Jan Andolan to enhance awareness about not only the disease, but its treatment with the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders across the centre and States/UTs”, he informed.

Ms. LucicaDitiu, Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership, Mr. Peter Sands, Executive Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Dr. Teresa Caseva, Director, Global Tuberculosis (TB) Programme WHO, Dr. Joanne Carter, Vice Chair, Stop TB Board and other senior officials of the organization and allied development partners were virtually present at the meet. (PW News)

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