“STEP Up to End TB 2022” Summit organised at Vigyan Bhavan

By The Press India Desk / New Delhi

In an event to celebrate World TB Day 2022, Hon’ble Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Smt. Anandiben Patel virtually inaugurated the “Step Up to End TB” event today in presence of Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya to reiterate India’s commitment to eliminating the high-burden infectious disease by 2025, five years ahead of the global goal of SDG 2030. Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Science and Technology & Earth Sciences, State Health Ministers of Assam, Shri. Keshab Mahanta, and Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Alo Libang, Dr. V.K. Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.

Smt. Anandiben Patel stated that a societal approach that brings together people from all backgrounds into a Jan Andolan is needed to achieve the ambitious target of eliminating TB by 2025. She urged everyone to make efforts towards ensuring adequate nutrition for all, building awareness and addressing any social stigma associated with the disease. She also made a special note about children suffering from the disease and challenges they and their families face, underlining the urgency to end childhood TB. While sharing her experience of encouraging individuals, government and private organisations, education institutions, NGOs, etc., to adopt children suffering from TB, she urged those present at the Summit to also adopt them and make an exemplary contribution in the nation’s committed fight to TB.  “It is equally important to encourage parents, communities, schools and anganwadis to take the lead to get children screened for TB to enable timely treatment”, she stated.

While informing about several steps taken in states/UTs she added that “our efforts are especially significant as only till last year we were combating the dual challenges of TB and COVID-19. In fact, conducting bi-directional screening for COVID and TB along with door-to-door home visits by health workers has played a key role in a remarkable increase in notifications.” She highlighted the country’s capacities in terms of a robust network of health representatives on ground, women SHGs, student organisations, and other stakeholders who can be mobilised efficiently to provide welfare for our citizens and ensure health for all. 

Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, delivering the ‘special address’ at the event, highlighted that a 360-degree holistic approach is the cornerstone of TB elimination in India. “We are determined and committed to achieve our Hon’ble PM’s vision of eliminating TB by 2025, five years ahead of the target for TB set by SDG 2030. Through the active efforts of all the states and the sustained guidance to the programme by our country’s leadership, the programme has advanced through challenging times,” he said. He said that society and government need to collaborate their efforts in order to win this fight against TB. NGOs, CSOs and other stakeholders need to work on this thinking that it is their own duty to work for TB Mukt Bharat. While awarding States/UTs for their efforts, he noted that “appreciation of deserving states and UTs will motivate them to do better and this will help us in defeating TB.”

Noting the challenges posed by COVID, Union Health Minister noted that “for more than two years, we have been facing the global pandemic apart from TB prevalence. Both diseases are highly contagious, air-borne and severely impact families and communities. He stated “as  we move forward, let us through Jan Andolan and Jan Bhagidari involve various stakeholders and partners in our collative fight against TB, the same way we have collaborated in our fight against COVID19”. He suggested that “apart from adopting children, we can go one step further to adopt blocks, districts with the help of local administration there.” He further said that “we have developed a system of identification, treatment and support of patients across the country. New advanced technologies and treatment modalities are coming up which can be used in our fight against TB.” Digital facilities like service delivery system, artificial intelligence system, e-pharmacy and telemedicine can be used towards TB eradication.

Dr. Bharti Pravin Pawar thanked the healthcare workers for their work on ground Globally, She stated that India is lauded for its COVID-19 management practices and similarly we can make an example again with TB elimination efforts. “Our learnings from COVID pandemic will also help us. Efforts at various governance levels be it at district level, block level, panchayat or community level can be efficiently streamlined”.

Dr. Jitendra Singh announced launching of “Dare to Erade TB” program which will be based on Indian data, and formation of a Genome Sequencing Consortium for WSG TB surveillance. He also highlighted efforts of Ministry of Science & Technology in disease biology, drugs discovery and vaccine development to remove the scourge of TB from the country.

Dr. V K Paul stated that the pandemic has shown us that diagnostic services can be scaled up to reach every home. Furthermore, mechanisms have been put in place in States for home care and health services delivery. These lessons can be used to further strengthen our End-TB program. He also highlighted the need to reach the tribal population stating that the marginalised communities carry a very high burden of the disease and thus need a sharpened focus.  

Several reports and new interventions were released on this occasion. India TB report 2022 and National TB Prevalence Survey Report showed the TB status in the country. Other releases like Report on C-TB (new skin test for TB infection diagnosis), Standard Treatment Workflows for Management for Extra-pulmonary TB & Paediatric TB (book & Mobile Application) were released and InTGS (Indian TB Genomic Surveillance Consortium) was announced. The 21 day campaign through Ayushman Bharat- Health & Wellness Centres to kindle a Jan Andolan, and culminating on 14th April, 2022 was also launched.

Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, Dr. Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR, Dr. Rajesh S. Gokhale Secretary (Dept. of Biotechnology), Dr. Sunil Kumar, DGHS, Shri Vikas Sheel, AS&MD (NHM), other senior officials and TB champions were also present at the event.

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