End TB by 2025, Tuberculosis in India:  Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has accorded high priority for ending tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), said Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare.

Addressing ministers of Member Nations of WHO, Heads, and Representatives of UN Agencies and partner organisations, Dr Vardhan said that in India, under the guidance of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, India had accorded high priority for ending tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

He said that Tuberculosis had been in existence since time immemorial and continued to remain a major global public health problem, despite the progress made over the last decade, TB remained to be the leading infectious killer disease worldwide.

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Lauding India’s efforts towards eradication of TB, Harsh Vardhan said, “With bold and innovative policies supported by commensurate resources, India has taken several critical steps towards ending TB. We have significantly reduced the number of missing TB patients from one million in 2016 to less than 0.5 million in 2019, with 2.4 million cases notified during the year. Most importantly, a third of these notifications were contributed by the private sector. With the scale-up of rapid molecular diagnostics in every district of the country, we were able to identify over 66,000 drug-resistant TB patients in 2019.”

He pointed out that poverty is a powerful determinant of tuberculosis and undernutrition an important risk factor of developing active TB disease. “To address this, we are providing cash incentives through Direct Benefit Transfers for nutritional support and since April 2018, Rs 7.9 billion (around USD 110 million) have been distributed to over 3 million beneficiaries. Affordable and quality TB care is a priority for our Government”, he stated.

The Minister further spoke about India’s fight against COVID-19 and said: “We reached a historic low in the month of April with lockdown in full force, but through sustained efforts, we have managed an increase of 43 per cent in May and another 25 per cent in June.”

To mitigate the impact, the government has been issuing constant advisories to the States to ensure convergence of TB case finding with COVID-19 efforts, he said adding that “we have initiated bi-directional screening among TB and COVID patients, and screening for TB among influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI).”

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