In 2017, WHO reported that 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and there were 1.8 million TB deaths in 2016, making it the top infectious killer worldwide. This disease is deeply rooted in populations where human rights and dignity are limited. While anyone can contract TB, the disease thrives among people living in poverty, communities and groups that are marginalised, and other vulnerable populations. These include: migrants, refugees, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, the elderly, marginalised women and children in many settings etc.
Factors such as malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and diabetes, affect vulnerability to TB and access to care. Furthermore, this access is often hindered by catastrophic costs associated with illness, seeking and staying in care, and lack of social protection, resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health. The transmission of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) adds great urgency to these concerns.
The theme: “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”
The theme of World TB Day 2018 – “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”– focuses on building commitment to end TB, not only at the political level with Heads of State and Ministers of Health, but at all levels from Mayors, Governors, parliamentarians and community leaders, to people affected with TB, civil society advocates, health workers, doctors or nurses, NGOs and other partners. All can be leaders of efforts to end TB in their own work or terrain.
This is a critical theme, given the political importance of the upcoming UN General Assembly high-level meeting on TB this year, which will bring together Heads of State in New York. It follows on from a very successful Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in Moscow on 16-17 November, 2017 which resulted in high-level commitments from Ministers and other leaders from 120 countries to accelerate progress to end TB.
World TB Day provides the opportunity to shine the spotlight on the disease and mobilize political and social commitment for accelerate progress to end TB. Each year, WHO commemorate World TB Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis (TB) and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.
Despite significant progress over the last decades, TB continues to be the top infectious killer worldwide, claiming over 4 500 lives a day. The emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) poses a major health security threat and could risk gains made in the fight against TB.
On World TB Day 2018- India launches new initiatives to combat TB
In line with the world sentiment, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, said in message to the nation that “In the spirit of this year’s World Tuberculosis Day theme of ‘Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world’ I urge citizens and organisations to take the lead in the movement to end TB. A TB-free world is a wonderful service to humanity. Government of India is working in mission mode to make India TB-free. While the world has set a target of 2030 for TB elimination, we in India want to become TB-free by 2025.”
Building on Preeti Sudan, Secretary (Health) at a function on the occasion of ‘World TB Day’, here on 24 March 2018 said, “We are already aligned with world TB treatment protocols. It has to a mission to End TB by 2025, through community participation, involving civil societies and other stakeholders.”
She further stated that the global target to end TB is 2030 but we will end it by 2025. “This is a tall order but I am confident that if we all work together, if all the partners combine together and we ensure full treatment is given on regular basis we can show the world this can be achieved. I am confident of this and my confidence is backed by our success in eradicating Polio,” she added.
At the function, the Health Secretary also released the TB INDIA 2018 Report and National Drug Resistance Survey Report. She also launched the NikshayAushadi Portal and shorter regimen for Drug Resistant TB.
Preeti Sudan commended the TB warrior, Suman, a graduate student who narrated his experience living with TB. The Health Secretary stated that early identification and complete treatment of TB is a key to achieving our goal of TB elimination. We need many TB warriors like Suman to fight against this disease and spread positive message across the communities to burst the myths and misconceptions around TB, she stated.
Addressing the participants, the Health Secretary further stated that Hon’ble Prime Minister has called for ‘TB Mukth Bharat’which can only possible if we ensure our panchayat and blocks are declared TB free. “For that Government has adequately provisioned drugs and diagnostic in every part of the country,” she added. Also present at the event were B D Athani, DGHS, Sanjeeva Kumar, Additional Secretary (Health), A. K. Jha, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Vikas Sheel, Joint Secreatry, Sunil Khaparde, DDG(TB), and other senior officers of the Health Ministry, representatives of WHO and other development partners.