Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has called for making people ‘key partners in India’s mission to overcome tuberculosis by 2025. On the impact of tuberculosis on people, especially vulnerable sections of society, he said a massive mobilisation of resources and multi-sectoral interventions is needed to make the ‘TB Mukt Bharat’ campaign a reality.
The Vice President advised public representatives at all levels to involve people in the country’s TB mission and recommended a multi-pronged effort. He was addressing the National Conference on Women Winning Against TB. Hailing the courage of women TB survivors, he stressed the need to adopt a gender-sensitive approach to eradicate TB, as the disease can have a disproportionately high impact on women due to inadequate priority given to their health, wellness and nutrition.
M. Venkaiah Naidu called for measures such as better and structured counselling about the disease through health workers, better nutritional support through schemes like Nikshay Poshan Yojana, and paying particular attention to children, pregnant and postpartum women with TB. States must go for door-to-door screening, especially for women who may not be willing to approach healthcare systems on their own, he said. Improving the nutritional status of people, better contact screening, reducing out-of-pocket expenditure, using safety nets for the most vulnerable sections and early detection of TB in hilly and remote areas were his other suggestions.
The Vice President noted that apart from the physical impact of the disease, there is a lot of economic and social cost on the lives of the people. “TB patients face unnecessary stigma from families, employers and society at large. This is totally unacceptable and must be stopped,” he emphasised. He called this stigma a reason for the low number of new TB cases reported in 2020 – only 18 lakh against the estimated 26 lakh. Calling for better awareness and advocacy programmes to change the social perception about tuberculosis, he underlined that “the message should reach the people that TB is definitely preventable and curable.” He suggested that TB advocacy programmes should leverage the heightened awareness about lung health in people because of the pandemic to spread the message about the disease.