New Delhi: Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has today said that India has accorded high priority for ending tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The Health Minister made the announcement while addressing ministers of Member Nations of WHO, Heads, and Representatives of UN Agencies and partner organizations.
"In India, under the guidance of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, India has accorded high priority for ending tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)," he said.
The Minister announced that with "bold and innovative policies supported by commensurate resources," India has taken several critical steps towards ending tuberculosis.
Revealing data, Vardhan said that the number of missing TB patients has reduced from one million in 2016 to less than 0.5 million in 2019, with 2.4 million cases notified during the year. A third of these notifications were contributed by the private sector, the Union Minister went on to add.
He further went on to add that with the scale-up of rapid molecular diagnostics in every district of the country, the government has been able to identify over 66,000 drug-resistant TB patients in 2019.
To tackle undernutrition, an important risk factor of developing active TB disease, the government is providing cash incentives through Direct Benefit Transfers for nutritional support and since April 2018, Rs 7.9 billion (around USD 110 million) have been distributed to over 3 million beneficiaries, he added.
To mitigate the impact of the COVID-19, the government has been issuing constant advisories to the States to ensure convergence of TB case finding with COVID-19 efforts, he said. The Minister also added that the government has initiated bi-directional screening among TB and COVID patients, and screening for TB among influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI)."
It needs mention here that despite the progress made over the last decade, tuberculosis remains the leading infectious killer disease worldwide.