Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched a campaign to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) from India by 2025, five years ahead of a globally-set deadline.
"A target has been set to end TB globally by 2030. I would like to announce that we have set aim to eradicate it from India five years ahead by 2025," Modi said. The target of 2025, however, has been emphasized by the ministry of health and family welfare at several occasions in the recent past. The PM's announcement today makes the advanced target for TB elimination official.
He stressed on analysing the situation and changing the approach, saying that efforts to curb tuberculosis has not yield successful results yet and said state governments have a major role to play in elimination of TB from the country.
He further said that front-line TB physicians and workers can make a major contribution in this direction. "State governments have a major role to play in elimination of TB from India. I have written to all chief ministers to join this mission," Modi said, adding it would boost the spirit of cooperative federalism.
He further said that TB was the most prevalent among communicable diseases in the country and the poor were the worst affected by it. Every step taken towards eradicating the disease is directly connected to their lives, he added.
India has the highest burden of tuberculosis in the world—each year, 29 lakh new cases of TB are reported; 4.20 lakh people, mostly poor, are known to die of the disease. Economic loss due to TB has been calculated to be Rs 20,000 crore per annum.
This is not the first time that the PM has also displayed his commitment to TB eradication. In December 2017, Modi had written to chief ministers of states asking them to review the progress of the tuberculosis elimination programme every quarter. THE WEEK had reported that in the letter, the PM had asked CMs to "closely monitor key performance indicators such as case notification (including from private sector), treatment success rate", and "active case finding in tuberculosis".
Last month, in his budget speech, the finance minister had also announced an additional allocation of Rs 600 crore for providing TB patients Rs 500 every month as "nutritional support" during the course of their treatment. The Revised National TB Control Programme has also taken several new initiatives such as daily regimen, universal drug susceptibility testing, active case finding in vulnerable groups, and cross reference between HIV and TB cases.
(With inputs from PTI)