Lakshadweep, J-K’s Budgam declared tuberculosis free

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday said that the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district have been declared tuberculosis free.

“We’ve now declared one Union Territory – Lakshadweep and one district in Jammu and Kashmir – Budgam as tuberculosis free. I think this is a landmark achievement, to begin with, and I think it has already set the tone for a TB-free India by 2025,” said the Union Health Minister while addressing a meeting of WHO’s National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme Technical Consultant Network Teams.

Dr Vardhan said that World Health Organization (WHO) has always been a constant source of transformative change in all health matters.

“WHO has always been a constant source of transformative change in all health matters – right from technical support, research, policy, monitoring and evaluation, capacity building to public health communication and knowledge dissemination – you have always been there to support us; be it in drawing up the National Health Policy, or in initiatives like Ayushman Bharat, strengthened primary care through Health and Wellness Centres or promotion of digital health,” said Dr Vardhan.

While remembering the struggle against polio and said that due to India’s vast population it was a huge challenge and India constituted over 60 per cent of all global polio cases as recently as 2009 but we managed to wipe out polio from the country.

“We have again shown the world what we can achieve together in our fight against COVID. The year 2020 will be etched in public memory as one where the world found itself amid an unprecedented public health crisis. The outbreak of COVID-19 exerted unimaginable pressure on our health care systems. But we put forth a strong response, rapidly undertaking contact tracing and active case finding to identify, isolate and provide timely care to patients. WHO consultants were pulled in from across different programs to combat COVID, and I thank each one of you for your diligence in ensuring the continuity of healthcare services and helping stop the pandemic in its tracks,” said the Union Minister.

He further said that it is an encouraging sign and reflects that we are now able to provide better access for TB patients through our health sector (both public and private) and also reach out to communities through our Active Case Finding (ACF) drives, and provision of free treatment to TB patients. “As proper diagnosis and prompt treatment are key to TB elimination, the consultant network must now focus on both detecting cases early and preventing the emergence of new cases,” he further said.

He said that on World TB Day, he had officially called out for a “TB Mukt Bharat” and asked everyone to be a part of the occasion and pledge to make our country TB Free in the next four years.

“The success of this campaign solely depends on activities reaching grassroot population. We must create scalable and replicable models at the earliest. Action has to pivot around States and most importantly, in hard-to-reach areas. No two States are the same and we need to customize activities as per geography to accomplish a multiplier effect and bring in perceptible and measurable change. The time now is to build upon the work that WHO has been supporting us for the last 70 years and expand collaboration beyond medical interventions to include other Ministries, Gram Panchayats, and elected representatives,” he added.

Eliminating TB from India is not only important for this country, but also has much deeper ramifications for the whole world and will considerably motivate smaller countries.

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