Stating that global efforts to eliminate TB have not been successful, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today advocated for a "change in approach" by adopting multi-sectoral engagement and participation of all stake-holders to eliminate the disease at the panchayat level, as he announced a target to free India from the disease by 2025 - five years ahead of a globally-set deadline.
Observing that TB impacts lives, economy and the future of a nation and that the poor were the worst affected by it, Modi asserted that state governments have a major role to play in its elimination while adding that he has written to all chief ministers to join this mission.
There were an estimated 2.8 million new cases of TB in 2016, with over 400,000 people succumbing to the disease, including those with TB and HIV.
While addressing the Delhi End-TB Summit here, he said his government was moving ahead with the principle of "treat every TB patient best at the very first opportunity" and was roping in the private sector as well.
Modi also urged the health ministry to expand the ambit of research of traditional medicine in curing tuberculosis and share the results with other nations.
He called for a multi-sectoral engagement and participation of all stake-holders at every level to create "TB-free village, panchayat, district and state", noting that frontline TB physicians and workers could make a major contribution in this direction.
Modi said the WHO had declared tuberculosis an emergency 25 years ago and since then, several countries have made efforts to eliminate the disease.
"But the ground reality still remains that we have not been successful in curbing tuberculosis yet. If something doesn't yield desired results even after 10-20 years, then we need to change our approach and analyse the work done, which could help in finding new paths," Modi said.
He launched the TB-free India campaign to take the activities under the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination forward in a mission mode for eradicating the disease by 2025.
"A target has been set to end TB globally by 2030. I would like to announce that we have set a target to eradicate it from India five years ahead, by 2025," Modi said.
The National Strategic Plan to eradicate TB by 2025 is operational and the government was constantly increasing the budget for the schemes to counter the disease, he said.
"The government has made a provision of spending $100 million per annum to provide nutritional support to the patients suffering from disease," he said.
The prime minister also talked about the two major initiatives in health sector, as part of the Ayushman Bharat programme.
He said the National Health Policy, 2017 envisioned Health and Wellness Centres as the foundation of India's health system. Under this, 1.5 lakh centres would bring comprehensive primary health care systems closer to the homes of people.
He further said under the National Health Protection Scheme, 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) would be provided coverage up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.
"This will be the world's largest government-funded health care programme. Adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme," he pointed out.
The prime minister said his government's thrust had been on technology and innovation in this field to better the drugs, diagnosis and treatment of the disease, and to boost research, India the TB Research Consortium was also set up.
Targeting the previous governments, Modi said the immunisation programme had been going on for the last 30-35 years and despite that, the country could not achieve the target of complete coverage till 2014.
"The pace of the immunisation coverage earlier was inching ahead by just one per cent. Had we continued at with the same pace, it would have taken us another 40 years to achieve the target.
"However, in the last three-and-a-half per years it has increased by 6 per cent and by the next year, we will achieve 90 per cent immunisation coverage," he said.
Reiterating the commitment of the government, Health Minister J P Nadda said, "We are starting a new scheme for nutritional support, expanding public-private partnership models and aligning our strategies to follow the similar success we got in HIV /AIDS. We are using Information Technology (IT) tools to monitor the programme and treatment adherence. Community engagement is the hallmark and it is becoming a social movement to End TB in India."
India is also implementing the National Strategic Plan for TB elimination that is backed by a funding of over Rs 12,000 crore over the next three years to ensure every TB patient has access to quality diagnosis, treatment, and support.