TB Control: High time to think outside the box, says Minister of Health for India

29 October 2014 - Barcelona, Spain - The Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan today said that it is high time that global tuberculosis (TB) control measures took faster and unconventional steps to end the TB epidemic which causes 1.5 million deaths annually. Global TB control has to think outside the box, he added. Ending the TB epidemic in Asia is of prime importance as the region accounts for more than 50% of global TB cases.

The engagement of the fast-growing private health sector in Asia should be accelerated without delay considering the fact that a majority of TB patients in the region first approach the private health care providers for care. This will also reduce the suffering of millions of poor people who get TB every year and become further impoverished.

The formation of newer partnerships like Stop TB Asia Coalition to organize the private health sector in the region and to ensure adaptation of international standards of TB care across all types of private health facilities is a timely action, the Minister added. Dr. Vardhan was speaking to the Asian delegates after inaugurating the Stop TB Asia Coalition. Dr. Vardhan is currently in Barcelona to address the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health.

The Minister thanked Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, for gathering support globally for TB control from all stakeholders. He also commended WHO and Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of the Global TB Programme, for bringing TB control high on the global health agenda. Dr. Narendra Saini, chairman of the Asia Coalition, who presided over the meeting thanked WHO, Stop TB Partnership, PATH, the Union and other partners for supporting the coalition. Dr. Suvanand Sahu, (Stop TB Partnership), Dr. SS. Lal (PATH), Dr. Kurshid Hyder (WHO), Dr. Sreenivas (WHO), Dr. Ngyuen (Viet Nam), Dr. Kulshresta (India), Dr. Sachdeva (India) were among those present on the occasion.