Celebs & Parliamentarians pledge for “Zero stigma, Zero discrimination” to end TB in India

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MPs and Celebrities will participate in a cricket match on day 2 #INDIAvsTB

Dharamshala, April 7, 2017: Coming on the heels of the announcement of a National Strategic Plan for tuberculosis (TB) elimination 2017-25, the TB-Free India Summit brings together prominent international experts; government officials; members of parliament; representatives from the corporate sector; foundations & trusts; Bollywood celebrities; TB survivors; and media, for two days of deliberations and discussions on what can be done to end TB by 2025. Experts and guests gathered to discuss the need to invest time, energy and resources of celebrities and corporates to end TB in India. The initiative has been conceptualized by the three-time MP and former BCCI President Mr. Anurag Thakur in consultation with Union health Minister Mr. J P Nadda is takings forward the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s vision of a TB free India by 2025.

There is a new global momentum to combat TB stigma in the context of the END TB strategy and the goal of zero TB disease and zero TB suffering. Stigma and discrimination associated with TB can be as devastating as the illness itself and the adverse social impact of TB may include social isolation, interruption of employment and education, break of family ties and stigmatization. Often the negative consequences extend to the family of the TB patient. On the first day of the TB-Free India Summit, experts deliberated on the need for the private sector to collaborate with the Government to increase community interventions on TB and how celebrities can support by lending their voice to the TB-Free India campaign.

The Summit is jointly hosted by the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and The International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), as a part of the Call to Action for a TB-Free India campaign being implemented under the stewardship of Central TB Division, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The Summit is supported by Challenge TB (the flagship TB control programme of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); The Global Fund and WHO.

Tomorrow, chief guest Union health minister Mr. J P Nadda along with other union ministers will attend the Summit along with members of parliament (MPs); officials from the Government; USAID; International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease; WHO; The Global Fund; and celebrities and will flag off the #INDIAvsTB T20 cricket match where members of parliament in the MPs’ XI team lead by Anurag Thakur will face-off against the Mumbai Heroes celebrity team led by Bobby Deol at the picturesque HPCA Stadium, Dharamshala. 

“India’s target to eliminate TB by 2025 are aggressive and five years before the deadline of the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This will require the participation of all stakeholders including public and private. This summit is a symbol of collaboration that India will need to battle TB. This cricket match will go a long way in associating common people to fight against TB,” said Mr. AK Jha, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Speaking at the Summit, Shri Kaul Singh Thakur, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Himachal Pradesh acknowledged the contribution of various corporates and said, “A collaborative effort will help us combat TB and assess how all of us – from government, civil societies, corporates, and individuals – can play a role in eliminating this dreaded disease.  I believe that this TB-Free India Summit has brought together all the necessary partners and increase the visibility of TB as a national issue.”

Commenting on the summit being held in Dharamshala, Shri VP Singh Badnore, Governor of Punjab, said, “It is the present Central Government and our Prime Minister’s vision to end TB by 2025.  Ending TB requires national, state and collaborative efforts. This summit provides us with an opportunity to discuss what else we need to do to ensure India meets its goal to eliminate TB by 2025.”

MP Anurag Thakur said, “TB is perhaps the country’s most severe health issue. In the last few years, we have made significant efforts to eliminate this disease, including: making it compulsory to notify TB cases, improving diagnostic services and strengthening drug resistance surveillance. But more needs to be done. Let us work together to put an end to the tragic suffering and loss of life that are the result of this disease.”

Several experts addressed celebrities & corporates today and offered their perspectives on why TB is an issue of national relevance and how all individuals joining the TB-Free India Summit can contribute towards “Zero Stigma, Zero Discrimination”. Representatives from corporate houses including: Ambuja Cement Foundation, Cepheid, DLF Foundation, ESSAR Foundation, GAIL India, IL&FS, Johnson & Johnson, Jubilant Bhartia Group, Larson & Toubro, Omkar Foundation, Qiagen, Tata Trusts and Transport Corporation of India reiterated their strategies and plans to accelerate public-private partnerships that will help end TB in the country by 2025.

Mark White, Mission Director, USAID/India, said “India and the U.S. are natural partners with a long history of collaboration on TB prevention, treatment, research, and cure.  According to World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Report 2016, TB takes the lives of about 1400 Indians every single day. It is clear that we must scale-up our efforts to lower the incidence of new cases, reduce transmission and effectively treat multidrug-resistant TB. This summit gives us the opportunity to identify what needs to be done and take the necessary steps.”

Jose Luis Castro, Executive Director, The Union, commented, “We cannot end TB in the world unless we end TB in India. It is imperative that the government and corporate actors partner together to accelerate our progress to end TB. Millions of lives are counting on this leadership.”

Present at the summit are several members of parliament (MPs) and representatives from government who focused on increasing awareness of TB and the need for multi stakeholder engagement to ensure action at all levels. Engaging government health systems, private health sector, corporate sector, research & academic institutes, civil society, media, celebrities and patients effectively has been the objective of the national campaign – Call to Action for TB Free India – launched by the Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Shri J P Nadda in April 2015. 

Bollywood star Bobby Deol said, “It’s great to see such a diverse group of people, with the same commitment to end TB. I am happy to lend my support to the End TB campaign. I want more people across India to realize that TB can be cured – the important thing is that people get diagnosed early and complete their course of treatment.” Bobby Deol will be leading the Mumbai celebrity team of cricketers that will take on the MPs’ XI team in the 20-20 #INDIAvsTB cricket match tomorrow.

The match will take place at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Fans can catch the live action at the stadium or watch the telecast on DD National from 4 pm onwards. 

About Challenge TB: Call to Action for a TB-Free India

Challenge TB is the flagship TB control programme of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) has been tasked to implement the Challenge TB project in India through its Union South-East Asia Office in New Delhi. Since its founding in 1920, The Union has drawn from the best scientific evidence and expertise to advance solutions to public health challenges affecting people living in poverty.

Call to Action for a TB-Free India

The Call to Action for a TB-Free India calls for increased efforts to control TB through innovative policies and new strategies to raise awareness and domestic resources to end TB in India. Shri J.P. Nadda, Hon’ble Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, launched the Call to Action for a TB-Free India on 23 April, 2015. The goal of the Call to Action is to increase the visibility of TB and mobilize domestic resources and commitment to end TB in India.

About HPCA:

The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) is amongst India’s best cricket associations and boasts of having the world most picturesque cricket stadium in the world at 14,000 mtrs (approx.) above sea level amidst the backdrop of the mighty Dhauladhar mountains. It has played host to numerous historic sporting moments and hosted three seasons of the Indian Premier League. HPCA has hosted Test and One Day international matches that have been thronged by thousands of fans and legends of cricket from around the world. HPCA has also launched social initiatives such as ‘Swachh Himachal- Clean Himachal Campaign’ and also been host to the visiting delegation of British Parliamentarians.