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.