Ranchi, October 17, 2017: “We are all gathered here today as the state of Jharkhand takes one big step towards our common goal of eliminating TB by 2025. Now, TB drugs will be given daily as against the earlier alternate day regimen. This is a great initiative by the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme and the Jharkhand state government, to make this treatment easier for all patients. The treatment is now simplified and we hope that this will be very successful,” said Shri Ramchandra Chandravanshi, Hon’ble Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Jharkhand, at the launch of Daily Regimen for TB in Ranchi, Jharkhand on Tuesday, October 17.
Jharkhand will now begin providing daily treatment to those affected by TB, and the Health Minister administered drugs to three patients to kick off this new, improved regimen. The launch event was organised by the State TB Cell, Jharkhand, in partnership with REACH and with support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Speaking at the launch, Shri Sudhir Tripathy, Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Government of Jharkhand, said, “This is an important day for us because we are transitioning from one regimen to a better, more efficient one. TB is the biggest public health crisis that affects people in their most productive years. It would have been easier to digest the deaths caused due to TB if there was no treatment available, but it is curable and treatment is free. Even then, to see these numbers, shows our weakness. That is why this is a good opportunity, to launch such innovative ways to address this problem.”
The event also saw the official release of communications materials featuring Arjuna awardee Olympic archer Deepika Kumari. TB Ambassador Deepika Kumari lent her voice to the TB campaign through a series of video and audio messages as well as posters developed by REACH’s TB Call to Action project, with support from USAID. “Deepika Kumari’s message will now be showcased in every home and every village. I congratulate REACH for this very special work,” said Shri Chandravanshi while launching the campaign. “We are grateful to Deepika for her support and commitment as a TB Ambassador, and we are confident that through these messages, we can help improve awareness about TB, reduce stigma and connect people to TB services”, said Smrity Kumar, Project Director, REACH.
Jharkhand is the first state in the country to have a State Task Force on TB, which was set up earlier this year under the chairmanship of the Additional Chief Secretary. Congratulating Shri Tripathy and REACH for this unique achievement, the Hon’ble Health Minister said, “This is an unique initiative that brings together various departments to integrate TB into the mainstream. I request all of you present here to join hands for a TB-free Jharkhand.”
The event also saw representatives from the Jharkhand TB Cell as well as REACH and other development partners. Dr Rajkumar Beck, State TB Officer, addressed the gathering by sharing the state TB scenario while Dr Anindya Mitra, Training Officer, STDC, shared details about the new regimen.
“Controlling tuberculosis remains one of India’s biggest health challenges and causes vast socio-economic losses. We have to ensure complete diagnosis and treatment for all TB patients and access to free services at their doorstep,” said Shri Pradip Kumar Amat, Hon’ble Cabinet Minister, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Odisha, through a message released at the launch of TB Call to Action project in Bhubaneswar on December 17, 2016. The project is being implemented by REACH, an NGO dedicated to the fight against TB since 1999.
The launch event saw the participation of several key government dignitaries. Speaking on the occasion, Bhubaneswar North MLA Shri Priyadarshi Mishra shared stories of people affected by TB whom he had met in his constituency. Calling on all stakeholders, including other parliamentarians and elected corporators to join the fight against TB, he said, “I must congratulate REACH for coming here to eradicate TB in Odisha. Each of us, all stakeholders, play an important role to control TB in the state.”
With over 1,300 deaths per day, TB continues to be a grave public health crisis in India. In Odisha, the State TB Cell, as part of the Central TB Division’s Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, works with a three-point vision to ‘reach all, detect all and treat all’. Specifically, the Odisha government’s TB programme focuses on early detection among the vulnerable populations of the state. This effort requires a multi-sectoral approach, that brings together various stakeholders, from the national and state governments to partners – both public and private – in the fight against the disease.
Dr Kailash Chandra Dash, Director, Health Services, Department of Health and Family Welfare (DoHFW), Government of Odisha, Dr Jnanindra Kumar Tripathy, Director, Public Health, DoHFW, and Dr Sanjukta Sahoo, State TB Officer, addressed the gathering and spoke about the state’s programme to control TB.
The Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health (REACH) is currently implementing the Tuberculosis Call to Action (TBC2A) project with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Dr Amar Shah, Project Management Specialist (Tuberculosis Care and Control), USAID, said, “To accelerate progress towards ending TB, USAID is taking the momentum that is being generated at the national level to select states in India, where partners will employ targeted advocacy and outreach all the way to the district level. USAID and REACH will work hand-in-hand with the Odisha government, public health officials, private healthcare providers, corporate organisations, civil society, and most importantly, people who are directly affected by TB. We will work collectively with these stakeholders to amplify and support the state’s efforts in the fight against this disease.”
This project aims to transform the TB landscape in India by improving access to high quality services and reducing suffering and deaths. “It is a great honour and challenge for us to embark at the state level. We have been truly and warmly welcomed in Odisha by one and all, and we look forward to beginning our optimistic journey in this state. Through our efforts, we seek to amplify and support India’s response to TB by broadening the conversation around the disease and involving previously unengaged stakeholders, thereby raising the profile of TB at the national and state levels,” said Dr Nalini Krishnan, Director, REACH, in her address.