Lead Battle against TB ‘Challenge’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Two dozen organizations of TB survivors & patients asks PM to lead India @UN meeting

New Delhi: Over twenty organizations representing millions of Tuberculosis (TB) survivors, patients and eradicate TB health activists have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to attend and lead Indian delegation at the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on the disease to give a leg up to TB free India campaign. They have expressed hope that PM Modi would readily accept this ‘challenge’.

The first ever UN meeting on TB will take place in New York on September 26, 2018. Talking to Medicare News, International Public Health Consultant, CEO, Global Coalition of TB Activists, Blessina Kumar said ‘we are confident PM Modi would lead us at UN’. On suggestion that the coalition of organizations writing him letter should leverage Amitabh Bachhan (Big B), himself a TB survivor and Indian government’s brand ambassador for the ‘Call to Action for a TB-free India’, to persuade PM to accept their request,  she said ‘PM should listen to voice of common man.’

Here is the excerpt of the letter released by Global Coalition of TB Activists:

Dear Shri Narendra Modi ji,

The  United  Nations  General  Assembly  (UNGA)  will  hold  a  high-level  meeting  on  Tuberculosis (TB) on 26 September, 2018 during the second day of general debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly in New York. On behalf of the undersigned TB survivors, community and civil society  organisations  committed  to  ending TB in  India,  we  are  writing  to  request  you  to personally  attend the TB  High-Level  Meeting  and  lead  our  country’s  national  delegation  at  this important event.

The  High-Level  Meeting  comes  at  a  critical  time  when  the  world  is  gearing  up  to  end  TB  by 2035. At the current rate of progress, it will take 150 years to achieve the target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.3 to end the TB epidemic. TB kills more people every year than any other  infectious  disease  and  is  the  ninth  leading  cause  of  death  globally.  It  is  the only  major drug-resistant  infection  transmitted  through  the  air  and  the  leading cause  of  death  due  to antimicrobial  resistance. TB is a cause and consequence of poverty, lack of awareness  and poor  treatment;  and  its  deadly  persistence  demonstrates  the  imperative  of supporting  the research  and  development  (R&D)  of  new  health  technologies  as  well  as  ensuring  their accessibility and affordability to all people in need. For these reasons, TB sits at the heart of the SDGs,  making  progress  against  TB  an  essential  measure  of  the  successful  realisation  of  the SDG agenda at large. TB remains a major obstacle to attaining the SDG vision of health, development, and prosperity for all in India.

According  to  WHO  Global  TB  Report  2017,  our  country had an  estimated 27,90,000 people  infected  with  TB  in  2016 and1,47,000 of  these  were  drug-resistant.  In  the same  year, 4,23,000 people  died  of  TB despite  it  being  preventable  and  curable,  and approximately 12000 people co-infected with TB and HIV were among the reported deaths.

Funding  for  research  on  TB  in  India  is  not  sufficient  given  the  urgency  of  the  TB  crisis. New tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat TB are urgently required. TB  transmission  happens  in  workplaces,  schools,  on  public  transport  and  even  at  healthcare facilities.  On 17 April 2018, the first meeting of National TB Forum on community engagement with different stakeholders including the affected community was organised for better community engagement.  It is  encouraging  to  see  the  bold  steps  being  taken  to  realise the dream of  Ending  TB and  your  commitment  to  do  so  by  2025.

We urge you to use the opportunity created by the UN High-Level Meeting to raise the political profile of TB domestically and globally.

Engagement at the highest levels of government between now and the UN  HighLevel Meeting in  September  2018  is  critically  important  to  ensure  that  this  meeting becomes  a  true  turning point  in  inspiring  the  urgent  investments  and  actions,  the  world needs,  to  defeat  TB.  It is our belief   that   ending   TB   will   require   multi-sectoral   solutions,   carefully   coordinated   across government ministries and departments at the Head-of-State level. We, therefore, appeal to you to

1.Attend  and  lead the  Indian  national  delegation  to  the  High-Level  Meeting  on  TB  on  26September  2018  at 73rd United  Nations  General  Assembly  in  New  York.  We  ask  that membership of the  national  delegation  demonstrate  an  all-government  prioritisation  of  TB, including  Cabinet-level  officials  from  relevant  ministries,  parliamentarians and mayors  of states,  cities  and  districts  in  India  with  a  high-TB  burden,  other  relevant  officials  and representatives from  civil  society  organisations  and  persons  in  India,  personally  affected  by TB

2.Convene a national consultation in advance of the High-Level Meeting to inform the selection of  the  national  delegation  and  the  development of  priority  actions  and  commitments to  take forward  to  the  United  Nations  General  Assembly  in  September.  We  ask  that  the  national consultation  include  the  same  diverse  constituencies  highlighted  for  membership  in  the national delegation, discussed above.

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