Health & Wellness

TB survivors appeal to PM Modi to fast-track efforts to curb the disease

Survivors Against TB (SATB) — a community-based collective led by tuberculosis (TB) survivors, experts, and advocates — on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appealing to him to fast-track efforts to end the disease in India, ahead of World TB day on March 24.

While India has committed to eliminate TB by 2025, five years ahead of the global target of 2030, the country is currently facing a large burden of the most infectious disease, the SATB wrote in the letter.

They said that millions are affected by TB in India, and nearly 400,000 people die every year from the disease in the country.

In the letter, they called for immediate action to expand “access to free, accurate, and affordable TB diagnosis,” especially in remote and marginalised communities.

The list also included “investment in diagnostic facilities, mobile testing units, and access to rapid and molecular testing; access to free and accurate treatment, high-quality drugs, and shorter regimens.”

“Challenges such as limited access to diagnosis and treatment, stigma, socioeconomic barriers, and out-of-pocket expenses persist, and are hindering progress in tackling TB effectively even today,” said Ashna Ashesh, public health professional, lawyer, and MDR TB survivor, in a statement.

Apart from counselling and management support for patients, the SATB recommended measures to “prevent stock-outs in both public and private sectors.”

Stressing the importance of nutrition among TB patients, the SATB also called for increasing the Nikshay Poshan Yojana scheme to at least Rs. 2,000 per month from the current Rs 500, and to integrate mental health services.

“India has the capacity to make significant strides towards ending TB. We need to prioritise the voices and needs of TB survivors in shaping policies and interventions,” added Chapal Mehra, Convenor of SATB, in the statement.

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