Elected representatives pledge commitment to fight against TB in Bihar

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.

REACH honours Women Champions for their Role in Fighting TB

Chennai, March 23 2017: On the eve of World TB Day, REACH honoured Women Community Volunteers for their relentless efforts and contribution to the fight against TB. As many as 120 Women TB Advocates were felicitated at the “Empowerment of Women to End TB” programme organised in Chennai.

TB is a curable disease but those diagnosed with the disease need continuous support through the treatment period. “When it comes to health, women are leaders in the community and within their families. On World TB Day, we wanted to thank the women volunteers for their services to the community and by doing so, encourage them and others like them to continue their efforts”, said Dr Ramya Ananthakrishnan, Executive Director, REACH.

Women play an important role as caregivers, not just for their families, but also for the community. Encouraging women to work towards tackling the challenges of TB control can help create a healthy, TB-free society. The women volunteers have been involved in accompanying people with a cough to the TB care centres, providing information on TB, encouraging people to go for a TB test, monitoring the treatment of patients, and motivating patients and their families.

Dr. Veera Kumar, State TB Officer, Tamilnadu released a Tamil publication ‘Sadhanai Pengal’ which revolves around 20 women champions, who have played leading roles in the fight against TB. Dr J Lavanya, District TB Officer, Chennai; Dr Jaya Shreedhar, public health and communications consultant; and Dr Raja, WHO Consultant all participated in the programme.

Several awareness sessions were organised for the community volunteers who participated in the meeting. Dr Uma Ram, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Seethapathy Hospital, Chennai spoke about women’s health in the broader sense, focusing on the importance of regular health check-ups, self-examination for breast cancer and routine pap smear.

For these women, taking on TB does not come without the stress of being on their toes round the clock and dealing with patients from different backgrounds. Therefore Ms. Jacqueline David, Counsellor, TTK De-addiction Centre, Chennai was invited to the event to talk about Stress Management.

The REACH team also hosted sessions, touching upon issues ranging from Health Seeking Behaviour of Women, Challenges in Diagnosis and Treatment, Women and Stigma, Challenges as a Caregiver, and Challenges in Engaging in TB Care Services.

World TB Day is observed on 24 March annually to increase awareness about Tuberculosis among different communities and groups to motivate them to come together and work for TB Control more effectively.

Sand Artist Sudarshan Pattnaik Carves Commitment to Unite Against TB on World TB Day

Bhubaneswar, March 24, 2017: On World TB Day 2017, three eminent Oriya personalities – musician Padma Shri Prafulla Kara, sand artist Padma Shri Sudarsan Pattnaik and actor Shri Kuna Tripathy were announced as TB Ambassadors for the state.

All three Ambassadors expressed their commitment to improving awareness and public understanding of TB in Odisha. Speaking the previous day on Puri beach, where he created a sandart installation, Padma Shri Sudarsan Pattnaik said, “I want to create awareness about TB together with the state government and REACH. India has a big TB burden but there is a cure, so let us all become more aware that we can become TB-free.”.

“Generally celebrities are expected to endorse cosmetics, or fabrics, jewellery items or any other luxurious brands, so if we celebrities stand with causes like TB, then the society is surprised. So, why I am I here? The society gave me name, fame, identity, respect, but what I am I giving it back to the community. I was shocked to hear that every three minutes, someone dies of TB in India. I am here to join the fight against TB”, said popular Odia actor and stand-up comedian Kuna Tripathy.

Also speaking on the occasion, Padmashri Prafulla Kar, award-winning Odiya musician, commented, “Our commitment as ambassadors or TB champions in this campaign is to increase awareness amongst everyone, so that we can jointly work towards eliminating TB in the state. Some of us are aware about TB but we have joined this cause to spread awareness amongst all”.

“We have believed for a long time that the fight against TB needs the active involvement of leading artistes and intellectuals. We are delighted and grateful that Shri Prafulla Kara, Shri Sudarsan Pattnaik and Shri Kuna Tripathy have declared their commitment and look forward to working with them to dispel the many myths and misconceptions that persist around TB in the community”, said Dr Nalini Krishnan, Director, REACH.

The Ambassadors were felicitated at the World TB Day event organized by the State TB Cell and Government of Odisha, which brought together government public health officials, civil society organizations, TB Survivors and affected communities.

“Together with our TB Ambassadors from the state, I am certain that we will control TB by 2020 and eliminate it by 2025. We are very thankfully to development partners like REACH so we can unite to end TB and achieve zero TB deaths”, said Dr Kailash Chandra Dash, Director of Health Services, Government of Odisha.

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.

The TB Call to Action Project is being implemented with support from USAID in Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Bihar and Rajasthan. Through this project, REACH seeks to amplify and support India’s response to TB by involving previously unengaged stakeholders and broadening the conversation around the disease.