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Ramesh Shankar
Wednesday, October 5, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

On September 9, 2022, Indian President Droupadi Murmu had launched the Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan to reinvigorate the mission of TB elimination from the country by the year 2025. Earlier, at the Delhi End TB Summit in March 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a clarion call to the health authorities to end TB in the country five years ahead of global target of 2030. The Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan has been envisioned to bring together all community stakeholders to support those on TB treatment and accelerate the country’s progress towards TB elimination. The President also launched the Ni-kshay Mitra initiative which forms a vital component of the Abhiyaan. The Ni-kshay Mitra portal provides a platform for donors to provide various forms of support to those undergoing TB treatment. The three-pronged support includes nutritional, additional diagnostic, and vocational support. The donors, called Ni-kshay Mitras, could be a wide range of stakeholders, including corporate houses and industry representatives. That the Indian government is determined to eradicate this deadly disease from the country is clear from the fact that the government has been taking several measures during the last some years, and even during the pandemic period the government did not lose its focus. In the year 2018, faced with the alarming situation of emergence of multidrug-resistant TB as a public health crisis, the Union health ministry had made failure to report TB cases to the health authorities a criminal offence. The result is there for everybody to see as there has been a steady increase in the number of TB cases reported to the government which is very crucial as notification is an important tool to achieve universal coverage and succeed in the fight against this fatal disease.

Of course, during the last some years, the Central govt has introduced pivotal initiatives that are changing the way TB is diagnosed, treated and prevented in the country. To make India a TB-free nation by the year 2025, the Union Health Ministry has periodically been taking several laudable steps. The last few years have seen the country take definitive steps towards the elimination of tuberculosis from the country. The sustained efforts of the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme have led to an unprecedented increase in TB notifications and significant improvements in timely diagnosis, adherence, and treatment outcomes. To eradicate this dreaded disease from the country, the Ministry in the year 2018 made the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) more broad-based by mandating as many as 49,050 private clinics to prescribe free drugs to the TB patients. The government is implementing this scheme with the support of field level staff and an inventory management system called ‘Nikshay Aushadhi’ has been deployed for the purpose. And, in October 2019, the Health ministry had launched a country-wide ‘TB Harega Desh Jeetega’ campaign for community participation in the fight against TB. As part of the end-TB campaign, the government had also established patient forums in over 95 per cent of all districts in the country and these district forums would bring the voices of the affected to the fore, and highlight on-ground challenges faced by patients and their families in accessing TB care services. The Indian government’s initiative is laudable as India has the world’s highest TB burden, with 2.6 million cases and around 450,000 fatalities annually which is more than 1 quarter of the global disease burden. India accounts for a quarter of the world's DR-TB and fewer than 50% of patients put on treatment are having successful treatment outcomes. The government seems to be well on path to eliminate TB by 2025.


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