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Assam Governor Launches TB Call to Action project
GUWAHATI: “TB requires urgent attention and it is necessary to involve local governments, corporates and those personally affected by TB, for a meaningful contribution to this national cause,” said Governor of Assam Banwarilal Purohit, while speaking at the launch of the TB Call to Action (TBC2A) Project in Assam.
Purohit was the Chief Guest at the launch event of the TBC2A project, implemented by the Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health (REACH) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project seeks to amplify and support India’s response to TB by involving previously unengaged stakeholders and broadening the conversation around the disease.
Narrating a personal experience, the Governor said, “Back in the 1950s, when I was 10, my uncle was diagnosed with TB and the environment in the house was morose, as if there was no hope. Jewellery was pawned, we saved money and he was sent off to a sanatorium for six months. More than 30 people from our village went to see him off at the border because most believed he wouldn’t ever come back. That was the scenario back then. But today, it is different. TB is entirely curable, early identification is all it takes. Since the commitment of the Government of India is now on record, it should become that much easier for us to realize the dream of a TB-free Assam by 2025.”
Through the TBC2A project, REACH will prioritize two interconnected aspects of India’s response – strengthening and supporting the community response to TB and advocating for increased financial, intellectual and other resources for TB. “If we don’t unite now, the TB scenario will become worse than it is. With initiatives like ELM in tea gardens, we will get an opportunity to reach the unreached,” said Dr Achyut Baishya, Executive Director, National Health Mission, Assam.
The launch event was preceded by a consultative meeting on Employer Led Model (ELM) for TB Care and Prevention, which brought together senior representatives from tea garden associations to discuss the need for industries and corporates to work towards the welfare of their employees. Explaining the proposed ELM initiative, Dr SN Misra, Consultant, REACH, said, “ELM is globally accepted as a best practice because employers have the power to reach those that even governments cannot sometimes reach.”
Participating in the launch, Dr Amar Shah, Project Management Specialist, Health Office, USAID/India, said, “We must all work together to successfully turn the tide on TB. USAID is working hand-in-hand with the Assam government, healthcare professionals, corporate organizations, patients and survivors, to foster an environment that supports TB patients and moves us toward a TB-free India.”
Presenting an overview of the TB Call to Action project, Smrity Kumar, Project Director, outlined priorities for Assam, including engaging elected representatives, involving private pharmacies, strengthening the community response and inter-sectoral coordination for a comprehensive response to TB.