By Health In Five Writer
“The fight against TB needs to be made into a Jan Andolan, a people’s movement”. An effective communication strategy is needed which would focus on reaching the maximum population; complement with preventive, diagnostic and curative aspects of TB management; work towards demand generation; ensuring regular high visibility mass-media coverage; and also focus on community ownership and mobilization.
This was stated by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare as he chaired a meeting with the various developmental partners working in the field of TB care and management in India. The Union Health Minister urged for a joint collaborative platform where all the partners could join hands and forces together in elimination of Tuberculosis by 2025 from India. The meeting also served as a platform to highlight the main areas in which advocacy by all national and international organizations would help the country in its fight against TB.
He also highlighted the importance of strong political and administrative commitment from all States/UT Governments. “Partners can take a lead in galvanizing political commitment from the various political leaders locally”, he pointed out. The Development Partners can also support the programme in verification of claims made by the States etc, for TB Free status.
Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that there is also a need to address stigma in a huge way as it is one of the biggest barriers and hinders people from coming forward for reporting the diseases and availing of the treatment.
The Minister also urged the Developmental Partners to champion and be involved in community led monitoring to get real time information about the challenges on the ground level, and feedback from the people on what is working and not working.
Sharpening the focus around elimination of TB from the country by 2025, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that “We are running against time. Advocacy and engagement are a way to move forward.” He added, “The country has achieved significant success in the last two years under “TB Harega, Desh Jeetega” campaign that targets to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal target related to TB by 2025, five years ahead of the global target of 2030.”
The Union Health Minister stated that the there is an 18% and 12% increase in case finding under National Tuberculosis Elimination Program in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Private sector has also played an important role in TB notification. There is 77% increase in the private sector notification from 3.8 lakhs in 2017 to 6.8 lakh in 2019. Over 2018 and 2019, commitment has been received from 15 States and UT for Ending TB by 2025. COVID has caused a setback for which some measures are implemented to make up for it.