24 April 2015 - New Delhi, India - India undertook the largest ever TB programme review over the last two weeks. Under the leadership of the National TB Programme in the country, the outstanding mission was organized by the WHO country office.
This comprised of a large team of more than 140 international (including among others, the Stop TB Partnership, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, USAID, WHO's Global TB Programme, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Union, Eli Lilly Foundation, Global TB Alliance and the World Bank), and national experts (notably the presence of civil society and members of the Global Coalition of TB Activists, together with technical experts, private sector, researchers and academia). The team led by Dr Paul Nunn, visited more than six states and assessed the achievement, challenges and opportunities of the TB programme in India.
The findings and recommendations of the review mission were presented to the Minister of Health, including senior government officials as well as to key stakeholders from the various districts and provinces across the country. The mission recognized the huge advancement of the Indian National TB Programme done over the last three years, the great political commitment of the government, and the hard work of the National TB Programme team from central and peripheral levels. The mission provided recommendations on key strategic areas for the advancement of a TB free India.
Following the review, the Ministry of Health of India launched on 23 April, a bold Call to Action for a TB-Free India. In order to achieve the vision of a TB Free India, the Ministry will reach out to the unreached, diagnose all TB cases within two weeks of symptoms and ensure treatment completion by employing extensive use of rapid diagnostic kits and actively screening high risk populations.
"The Call to Action is not merely a slogan," Health Minister J P Nadda said. "It is a movement to galvanize all stakeholders for a shared commitment." He appealed to various stakeholders across the private sector, civil society members, experts, doctors, patients and caregivers to be part of the movement to make India TB free.
"I am extremely happy to see this incredible commitment of the Indian government towards a country free of TB. India is taking concrete steps towards putting in practice the commitment made under the Joint Communique of the 2014 BRICS Ministers of Health Meeting," said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, commending India on the initiative. "The global leadership of these countries in addressing this epidemic makes me feel extremely hopeful that we have what is needed to see a world without TB."