Pvt, public sectors should join hands to fight TB: Experts

Pvt, public sectors should join hands to fight TB: Experts

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 2016-02-02 20:21 Bengaluru: Both private and public sectors have to come together in order to make India TB-free, said Sheena Chhabra, Health Systems Strengthening at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), at a conference hosted by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) Foundation on Tuesday in Bengaluru. The conference invited the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) heads of India’s leading companies to join the campaign for a TB-Free India. “The Government of India and USAID are committed to making India TB-free. However, none of us alone can make this happen,” said Sheena. She called for “a multi-sectoral approach in which partners, both public and private, work collectively” was needed to achieve the ambitious yet attainable goal. Another speaker, Blessina Kumar, Chair-GCTA and Patient Advocate, said that the poor were the “most vulnerable” to this fatal infection and “often lack access to healthcare, quality nutrition and funds for treatment, which is prolonged.” Kavita Ayyagari, Project Director-Challenge TB at The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), said, “Given India’s socio-economic and geographic disparities, our strategy to end TB must address several aspects simultaneously. These include increasing disease awareness, improving detection and diagnosis of TB cases, providing access to quality healthcare services, ensuring patients follow through with treatment, strengthening public-private partnerships and removing the stigma associated with the disease.”  On April 23 last year, the Centre launched the Call to Action for a TB-Free India to engage the corporate sector to further strengthen the ongoing efforts to reduce the incidence of TB in the country. The nationwide campaign seeks to leverage Indian companies’ CSR spending, made mandatory under the Companies Act, 2013. India reports the highest number of deaths from TB anywhere in the world. An estimated 2.2 million cases are reported annually, 220,000 of which prove fatal. These numbers significantly increase after taking into account drug-resistant TB cases and HIV TB cases, which are much more complicated to treat and have a higher mortality rate. Announcing the “TB Missed Call” initiative, launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare early this year wherein TB patients can seek information, counselling and treatment support by dialing a toll-free number, Dr. Anil. S, State Technical Officer, Karnataka, said, “The government has undertaken several other initiatives to improve TB diagnosis and treatment in India, but support from other partners, particularly from organisations through their CSR initiatives is the need of the hour.”