Community engagement vital to completely eradicate TB: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu

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Speaking at the National Conference on Tuberculosis at Vigyan Bhavan Thursday, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said that people needed to be made key partners in the fight against TB to achieve a “TB Mukt
Bharat” by 2025.

The conference, organised by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, was also attended by union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and WCD Minister Smriti Irani.

“More than any other disease, community engagement is vital to completely eradicate TB”, Naidu stressed.

Observing that the impact of tuberculosis is disproportionately felt on the vulnerable sections of
society, he called for a massive mobilization of resources and multi-sectoral interventions to eradicate TB. “Facing the misery of abandonment and violence if found to have TB, it is not surprising that there are a large number of unreported and therefore untreated cases of TB amongst women”, he said.

He stressed on the need for concerted action from all levels of the government to achieve the target of complete eradication by 2025. Naidu called for improving the nutritional status of people, better contact screening, reducing out-of-pocket expenditure, having safety nets for the most vulnerable sections and early detection of TB in hilly and remote areas. The Vice President also urged elected representatives — MPs, MLAs and Gram Pradhans — to take regular reviews at the district- and sub-district level.

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani said that in India, women account for nearly 36 per cent of the total TB cases. “TB among women often goes unreported as they do not come forward to seek medical care due to societal stigma and lack of awareness. Additionally, undernutrition and gender inequality make women more susceptible to TB,” she said. Irani added that in 2020, as many as 6,90,000 women had TB.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, meanwhile, said that there were more than 25 lakh TB patients in the country. “We all have been witness to the Covid crisis over the past two years. But whereas over nearly five lakh people have died from Covid, every year 4 lakh people in the country die from TB. And 65 per cent of those who succumb to TB belong to the 25-55 year category. This is not a small number and it has impacted families with the death of their main bread winners who belong to this age range,” he said on Thursday.

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