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Govt employing multi-sectoral, community led approach to eliminate TB by 2025: Vardhan

IBEF:  September 26, 2019

The government is building a national movement through a multi-sectoral and community-led approach to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the global target, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday.

The Centre has also increased allocation of funds for the TB programme by four-folds, he said after releasing the 'India TB Report 2019'.

Vardhan also launched the 'TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign', along with the National TB Prevalence Survey and said multi-stakeholder and community participation will form the pivot of the countrywide campaign.

"As part of our commitment to end tuberculosis, we have established patient forums in over 95 per cent of the districts in the first 100 days (of the second Narendra Modi government), which clearly shows our strong commitment towards ending TB in the shortest time.

"These district forums will bring the voices of the affected to the fore and highlight on-ground challenges faced by patients and their families in accessing tuberculosis care services," Vardhan said.

The Union health minister got emotional during his address as he recalled how his brother-in-law died because of multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) following prolonged illness. Vardhan was then Delhi's health minister.

"Even though he was admitted to a top Delhi government hospital, and despite I being the (Delhi) health minister, we could not save him. So, we have to build a national movement to eliminate the disease," Vardhan said.

According to the 'India TB Report 2019', as many as 21.5 lakh TB cases were notified to the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) in 2018, a 16 per cent increase over 2017 and the highest so far.

Moreover, notifications from private sector health care providers reached 5.4 lakh, an increase of 40 per cent, contributing to 25 per cent of all TB notifications, it said.

"By employing a multi-sectoral and community-led approach, we are building a national movement to eliminate TB by 2025. Accordingly, we have increased allocation towards the TB programme by four-folds and are confident of achieving our target," Vardhan said.

Under the National Strategic Plan for ending TB (NSP 2017-25), the RNTCP is strengthening private sector engagement in order to reach out to more TB patients and improve access to tuberculosis care through the patient provider support agency (PPSA) and provision of incentives to doctors for notifying TB patients and treatment outcomes.

"As a result of these initiatives, of the total notifications, 25 per cent (5.4 lakh) cases were from the private sector. This PPSA model has now been scaled up to 48 cities throughout the country," Vardhan said.

Besides, 79 per cent of patients notified for TB in 2017, from both the public and private sectors, have successfully completed their treatment, while 49,733 cases were detected due to the efforts of the active case finding campaign, for which 14.4 crore vulnerable people were screened.

The Union health minister flagged off a van for the nationwide National TB Prevalence Survey. Twenty-five such vans will be part of the survey, which shall take six months to complete.

The survey will gather national and state-level data, which will be used as a policy tool for further interventions.

Vardhan also announced a partnership with the World Bank which is providing a USD 400 million credit for accelerating TB response in nine states through private sector engagement and other critical interventions.

He also awarded states which preformed excellently in tackling tuberculosis.

Among the states with a population of over 50 lakhs, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat were awarded for being best performers. Among medium population states, Tripura and Sikkim were recognized for their efforts. Puducherry, and Daman and Diu were judged as the best performers among Union Territories.

The Central TB Division, which manages the RNTCP, launched an 'accelerator to national strategic plan' at the event to improve and expand the reach of TB care services by 2022. The division is a nodal department at the health ministry.

The plan aims to initiate preventive and promotive approaches and proposes potentially transformative interventions such as engagement with private sector health care providers, inter-ministerial partnerships, corporate sector engagement, latent TB infection management and community engagement.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.