21 March 2016 - New Delhi, India - In an unprecedented World TB Day event held in New Delhi today, the Indian Government and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched a series of initiatives and new tools aimed at fast tracking scale up of quality diagnosis and treatment and in order to rapidly decrease the TB burden.
The event, held in Delhi, was jointly organized by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and WHO’s Regional Office for South-East Asia, along with other partners including the Stop TB Partnership, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and USAID.
The event, with over 400 people in attendance, saw the release of WHOs Regional Strategic Plan 2016-2020, and several e-documents, including the Annual TB Report of India as well as important technical and operational guidelines for TB care in India. In addition, the government of India launched the use of several new tools such as the new anti TB drug bedaquiline, 500 new GenXpert machines and third-line anti-retroviral therapy, as well as the release of a media campaign for awareness raising in the general population.
Opening the session, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare Shri J P Nadda said, "We have the will to move fast and accelerate progress towards ending TB. We know that India's success will have a significant impact on global TB success. We know that we can do it and we will do it!"
The Regional Director of WHO SEARO, Dr. Poonam K. Singh highlighted the need for a special accelerated approach in the entire region. She said, "Business as usual is not an option anymore in TB. Our region made significant progress in achieving the MDGs, but this is not enough and we need to now do more to end TB."
"For too long a time, TB did not have the level of attention and support it deserves, and it became ‘normal’ to die of TB. The commitment shown today by the government of India should make all of us confident that we will succeed in the fight against TB," said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.