The TB-Free India Summit on 7 and 8 April received a message of support from the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, saying:
“It is gladdening to see stakeholders from all walks of life converge…to deliberate on a vision for a TB Free India.”
The summit drew together top government officials and members of parliament (MPs) along with big name Indian celebrities to bring raised awareness and increased momentum to the fight against TB. Addressing the summit, The Minister of Health, Government of India, Shri J.P. Nadda, said:
“The government is committed to ending TB by 2025. Today, the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) treats over 10 million TB patients. But meeting the 2025 goal requires us to be aggressive in our approach and have a fresh way of thinking. We must tackle TB head-on, in the public and private sector, and a summit likes this gives us the opportunity to look for new ways to do this.”
The event brought a national focus to the issue of TB and galvanised support and commitment from key stakeholders, including from government, politicians, corporate partners and donors to pool resources to end TB in India.
Speaking at the summit, José Luis Castro, Executive Director, The Union said:
“If we want to address TB stigma in India and improve diagnosis, we need to engage all stakeholders to increase awareness and knowledge about the disease.”
Speakers and participants included the Honourable Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, Shri J. P. Nadda, Union Minister of State Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, and Members of Parliament Anurag Thakur, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Mohd Azharuddin (Former Captain of Indian Cricket Team) and others. Famous names making up the celebrity cricket side included Bobby Deol, Sonu Sood ,Sohail Khan, Aftab Shivdasani and Sunil Shetty and others.
Representatives from civil society, Central TB Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, The Union, the World Health Organization, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Global Fund were all in attendance.
The summit was organised by The Union as a part of the Call to Action for a TB-Free India campaign supported by Challenge TB (the flagship TB control programme of USAID; implemented by The Union in India), The Global Fund and WHO, in association with the Government of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association.
The TB-Free India Summit closed on 8 April with a T20 cricket match between Members of Parliament and some of India’s top celebrities. The celebrity team, Mumbai Heroes, captained by actor Bobby Deol, defeated the MPs XI, led by Parliamentarian Anurag Thakur.
Speaking before the summit took place, Mr Thakur said:
“This is the first TB-Free India Summit and we will work together to eliminate TB from India. Regardless of which team wins at the Summit, the goal is to bowl out TB.”
TB in India
India accounts for one quarter of the global TB burden and is one of the 30 high burden countries for TB, multidrug-resistant TB and TB-HIV. There was an estimated 2.8 million newly infected TB patients in 2015 alone (WHO Global TB Report, 2016). Despite an extensive National TB Programme and significant civil society involvement, TB remains one of India’s severest health crises.
About the Call to Action for a TB-Free India
The Call to Action for a TB-Free India is a national advocacy campaign, working to create partnerships, increase political will and commitment, and mobilise domestic resources towards ending TB in India. The TB-Free India campaign was launched by Hon Shri J.P. Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and is part of the global Challenge TB project funded by the United States Agency for International Development and implemented by The Union.
High-level support for the campaign has come from various stakeholders, including Amitabh Bachchan, TB survivor and Ambassador to the campaign, over 30 Members of Parliament who have formed the India TB Caucus and corporate and civil society partners.
Visit the campaign on Facebook: ForTBFreeIndia