Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday called on members of parliament and legislative assemblies and gram pradhans to conduct regular review meetings at district and sub-district levels to ensure a gender-sensitive approach to tuberculosis eradication.
Addressing the National Conference on Women Winning against TB, he called upon public representatives to be "catalysts" in the mass awareness campaign in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) by playing a proactive role in public conversations.
"As elected representatives, you too are responsible for fulfilling this mission of ‘TB Mukt Bharat’ by 2025. I encourage MPs, MLAs and gram pradhans to take regular district and sub-district level reviews to ensure a gender-sensitive approach to TB eradication," he said.
Naidu noted that the high incidence of TB is found to have a positive correlation with poor air quality (outdoor and indoor), poor nutrition and lack of medical attention and care. "The effects of TB go beyond its physical impact. The disease causes substantial economic and social impacts on the lives of the people," he said.
The vice president called for countering this through measures such as better and structured counseling about the disease through health workers, better nutritional support through schemes like Nikshay Poshan Yojana, and paying particular attention to children, pregnant and postpartum women with TB. He urged states/UTs to take proactive steps to take up door-to-door screening, especially for women who may not be willing to approach healthcare systems on their own.
Stressing the need for concerted action from all levels of the government to achieve the target of complete TB eradication by 2025, Naidu called for improving the nutritional status of people, better contact screening, reducing out-of-pocket expenditure, having safety nets for the most vulnerable sections and early detection of TB.
Calling for better awareness and advocacy programmes to change the social perception about the disease, he stressed that “the message should reach the people that TB is definitely preventable and curable”. He suggested that TB advocacy programmes should leverage the heightened awareness about lung health in people because of the COVID-9 pandemic to spread the message about the disease.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said nearly 4 lakh people die of TB every year and most of them are aged 25-55 years. "It is essential to make India TB free by 2025. Though the world goal is 2030, our goal is 2025, and we are working progressively towards it," he said Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said in 2020, 6.4 lakh women were suffering from TB.
"It is our responsibility to fight against TB in the country. Some people believe that women's issues can be solved only by women, but we have seen that even men stand shoulder to shoulder with women in solving their problems, and fighting TB together is an example of that," she added.
-With PTI Inputs