The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare commemorated the World TB Day with a function to mark the occasion, and reiterated the commitment to eliminating TB in the country by 2025. Ms. Preeti Sudan, Health Secretary presided over the function. She stressed on the importance of more sensitive and responsive doctors, paramedics, frontline health workers and community partners, while dealing with TB patients. The systems of care for TB patients should be patient –centric, and sympathetic to their wellbeing, she emphasised. She stated that India has been able to free of Polio, Yaws, MNTE due to the sturdy health systems, especially at the primary healthcare levels. She stated that partnerships with all stakeholders hold the key to making India TB-free.
She led the participants of the event to take a pledge to unite together to contribute and support towards making India TB free.
Various presentations made at the event highlighted the key changes introduced in the policy landscape of TB in the country. India is now closest ever to covering all TB cases with 21.5 lakh new TB patients notified in 2018. With the aim of universal access to free diagnostics and treatment services, path breaking policy changes have been introduced. Universal drug susceptibility testing has been rolled out, shorter and newer treatment regimen has been expanded countrywide. India is moving towards an injection free regimen. Private sector engagement has been elevated as one of the highest priorities with strengthened regulatory measures, collaborative incentives and scale up of successful Patient Provider Support Agency (PPSA) interventions which led to a 35% increase in TB notification from the private sector. The Nikshay Poshan Yojana has benefited 15 lakh TB patients for nutrition support with Rs. 240 cores disbursed as DBT since April 2018. A comprehensive call centre (1XXX-XX-6666) for information, addressing grievance, patient linkages and provider relationship has been established. Institutional system of award for TB free status has been introduced to generate federal competitiveness, motivate and to bring about proactive actions from States and Districts. As on date, 15 lakh patients have been initiated in the Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) regime. TB forums at various levels in the states have been formed to remove stigma and to create awareness about the symptoms of the disease and the free treatment available at the government health facilities. 1180 CBNAAT labs have been made operational throughout the country, along with 4 lakh treatment support centres at the village level. These efforts have resulted in increase from 25% to 83% in the treatment success rates (2017-2018), and the TB prevalence rates have come down from 29% to 4%.
TB champions from states shared their stories of overcoming the stigma of being a TB patient and motivating other patients to undergo the treatment. A special issue on TB of the Indian Journal of Tuberculosis and a toolkit on Patient Provider Support Agency were also unveiled at the function.
Also present at the event were Shri Sanjeeva Kumar, Additional Secretary & Director General (RNTCP & NACP), and senior officers of the Ministry, representatives from WHO and other development partners, community support organisations