Patna, March 24, 2017: A high-profile gathering of elected representatives, public health officials, TB and HIV affected communities and representatives of civil society organizations pledged their commitment to the fight against TB in Bihar at a World TB Day programme held in Patna. This was organized by the State TB Cell, Government of Bihar, in partnership with REACH and the National Coalition of People living with HIV (NCPI+).
The oath-taking was led by Shri Krishna Nandan Prasad Verma, Honourable Minister, Public Health Engineering and Law, Govt. of Bihar. Shri Shyam Rajak, MLA Phullwarisharrif, Shri Neeraj Kumar, MLA Graduate Constituency, Dr Ravindra Yadav, MLA Jhajha Jamui; Shri Nitin Naveen, MLA Bankipur, Patna; and Shri Vinod Narayan Jha, Member Legislative Council also participated.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Verma extended his support in the fight against TB, saying, “Earlier TB was considered a deadly disease and we thought no one would survive. Now we know there is treatment available. We need to work more especially in the rural areas of the state. Let us try to reach the unreached population, the homeless and the poor”.
Shri Neeraj Kumar, MLA, called on all departments to work together, noting the need for nutritional and social support for those affected by TB. “We need to link social welfare schemes to the TB programme”, he said. Shri Shyam Rajak MLA Phullwarisharrif, declared his commitment to work towards a TB-free Bihar. “Just as we eliminated small pox and other deadly diseases, we can defeat TB as well if all of us work together”. Shri Vinod Narayan Jha MLA spoke of the stigma associated with the disease.
State TB Dr (Maj) KN Sahai briefly described the TB programme in Bihar. Shri UN Vidyarthi, Chairman – Bihar TB Association; Dr SK Akela, Addl. Project Director-BSACS; Dr VK Singh, Director TBDC; and Dr Kailash, Regional Director RHO also participated.
With over 1,300 deaths per day, TB continues to be a grave public health crisis in India. The New National Health Policy re-emphasizes India’s commitment to eliminating TB by 2025, reducing deaths, suffering and catastrophic costs related to the disease. “Through the Call to Action project we are implementing in Bihar, REACH will amplify and support India’s response to TB by involving previously unengaged stakeholders and broadening the conversation around the disease,” said Ms Smrity Kumar, Project Director, TB Call to Action.
REACH and NCPI+ partnered to observe the World TB week, with events held from 20-24 March including a rally, street plays, drawing and quiz competitions and a poster exhibition.