A staggering 65 per cent of the tuberculosis cases in India are in the 15-45 age group, which is the most economically productive population segment, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Monday. This, coupled with the fact that 58 per cent of the TB cases are in rural areas, translates to entire families being excluded from upward mobility due to the disease, he said.
Speaking at an event to sensitise parliamentarians on the country's efforts to eliminate TB, Mandaviya asked all MPs to proactively engage in sensitising citizens about the disease and its treatment at events they organise and attend. He underscored that a staggering 65 per cent of the TB cases in the country are in the 15-45 age group, which is the most economically productive population segment.
Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, who chaired the event along with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, said "coordination at central, state, district and local levels would help in making this a people's movement and would expedite our efforts in eliminating TB by 2025". He also urged the MPs to set a goal in their constituencies for proper planning and execution of government programs and help in eliminating TB.
Birla called for collective action against TB and emphasised the crucial role played by Parliament in disseminating the message in a country full of diversity. He said it is the responsibility of people's representatives to ensure that there is constant identification and monitoring of TB patients in their constituencies and the needs of the patients are looked after during and post-treatment.
For smooth governance and health administration, parliamentarians would be provided with all necessary data related to TB and any assistance needed from the government, he added. Minister of State for Health Bharati Pawar spoke on the difficulties in the journey towards TB elimination with the onset of Covid-19.
"2020 witnessed a sweeping Covid-19 pandemic devastate lives, economies, health systems and health programmes across the world with record-breaking speed. In just a few months, the pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight against tuberculosis. "The onset of the pandemic in March 2020 triggered lockdowns, restrictions on movement, repurposing of available health system resources, infrastructure, diagnostics, treatment centres and manpower to fight Covid-19, (and) disrupted the ongoing TB elimination efforts and services all over the country," she said.
Pawar suggested effective sharing of collective responsibility with states in tackling the social determinants of TB for better and rapid health outcomes.