Hon’ble Governor Launches TB Call to Action project in Assam

Guwahati, August 24, 2017: “TB requires urgent attention and it is necessary to involve local governments, corporates and those personally affected by TB, for a meaningful contribution to this national cause,” said Hon’ble Governor of Assam Shri Banwarilal Purohit, while speaking at the launch of the TB Call to Action (TBC2A) Project in Assam.

Shri Purohit was the Chief Guest at the launch event of the TBC2A project, implemented by the Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health (REACH) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project seeks to amplify and support India’s response to TB by involving previously unengaged stakeholders and broadening the conversation around the disease.

Narrating a personal experience, the Hon’ble Governor said, “Back in the 1950s, when I was 10, my uncle was diagnosed with TB and the environment in the house was morose, as if there was no hope. Jewellery was pawned, we saved money and he was sent off to a sanatorium for six months. More than 30 people from our village went to see him off at the border because most believed he wouldn’t ever come back. That was the scenario back then. But today, it is different. TB is entirely curable, early identification is all it takes. Since the commitment of the Government of India is now on record, it should become that much easier for us to realize the dream of a TB-free Assam by 2025.”

Through the TBC2A project, REACH will prioritize two interconnected aspects of India’s response – strengthening and supporting the community response to TB and advocating for increased financial, intellectual and other resources for TB. “If we don’t unite now, the TB scenario will become worse than it is. With initiatives like ELM in tea gardens, we will get an opportunity to reach the unreached,” said Dr Achyut Baishya, Executive Director, National Health Mission, Assam.

The launch event was preceded by a consultative meeting on Employer Led Model (ELM) for TB Care and Prevention, which brought together senior representatives from tea garden associations to discuss the need for industries and corporates to work towards the welfare of their employees. Explaining the proposed ELM initiative, Dr SN Misra, Consultant, REACH, said, “ELM is globally accepted as a best practice because employers have the power to reach those that even governments cannot sometimes reach.”

Participating in the launch, Dr Amar Shah, Project Management Specialist, Health Office, USAID/India, said, “We must all work together to successfully turn the tide on TB. USAID is working hand-in-hand with the Assam government, healthcare professionals, corporate organizations, patients and survivors, to foster an environment that supports TB patients and moves us toward a TB-free India.”

Presenting an overview of the TB Call to Action project, Ms Smrity Kumar, Project Director, outlined priorities for Assam, including engaging elected representatives, involving private pharmacies, strengthening the community response and inter-sectoral coordination for a comprehensive response to TB.

‘Touched by TB’ – the coalition of TB people in India formed

New Delhi, 2017: During the Regional Capacity-Building Workshop for TB Survivors, participants from India held several discussions on the urgent need for a network or coalition of those affected by TB. This has since resulted in the formation of Touched by TB-The Coalition of TB People in India.

At the first ‘official’ meeting held on the last day of the workshop, the group identified national coordinators as well as regional focal points. In keeping with their self-identified mandate to support the TB programme in India, they agreed on several key objectives including creating and sustaining a coordinated and capacitated national coalition; ensuring treatment literacy and awareness for people living with TB; advocating for acceptable, accessible, compassionate, comprehensive, rights-based services; and networking with and support the Ministry of Health and the RNTCP and its partners to achieve the goal of ending TB in India by 2025.


REACH focuses on Paediatric TB

Chennai, 2017: REACH broadened its vision to tackle the issue of Paediatric TB. The EQUIP Initiative collaborated with Kanchi Kamakoti Child Trust Hospital – a leading multi-specialty children’s hospital – with the aim to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of TB in Children. REACH officials conducted a sensitization event for doctors at the hospital.

Around 50 doctors attended the meeting and were updated on the recent developments in paediatric TB management, standards of TB care in India, and about the services provided by REACH. The Child Trust Hospital will function as a nodal centre and referral hub for paediatricians practicing in Chennai.

According to WHO estimates, 210,000 children died of TB in 2015 across the globe, including 40,000 deaths among children who were HIV-positive. As many as one million children became ill with TB.