Bhubaneswar: Representatives of 20 mining companies and industries from four districts of Odisha attended a state-level consultative meeting for implementation of a workplace policy on Tuberculosis (TB), held in Bhubaneswar yesterday.
The meeting was organised by REACH, in association with the State TB Cell, Odisha, and supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Speaking at the meeting, Dr Pramod Meherda IAS, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of Odisha said, “Implementing a workplace policy on TB is a win-win situation for companies and their employees. We will ensure a seamless integration and interaction of communities, industries, mining companies, district administration, civil society organisations and the health department for this purpose”.
Dr. Meherda released the State Impact Report of the TB Call to Action project, implemented in Odisha since 2016 by REACH. The report summarises the key results and achievements of the project including the following – TB survivors from 23 districts of the state trained as TB Champions; over 2000 people with TB provided support services by TB Champions; over 26,000 people in the community sensitised by Champions; and 20 companies sensitised on TB and signed Letters of Intent of TB.
The meeting discussed the scope of cooperation and convergence between the TB programme and industries/mining companies, as well as an overview of the Employer Led Model for TB Care and Prevention. Presenting an update on the TB status in the mining districts, Dr. Ajit Mohanty, Director Public Health, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of Odisha said, “Miners are a vulnerable population for TB as per the National Strategic Plan for 2017-25 and ensuring their access to services is a challenge. We need to work together to increase the number of people diagnosed with TB in the four major mining districts and improve their treatment outcomes as well”.
Bibhuti Bhushan Sahu, TB survivor and Champion from Angul district described how his life had been impacted by TB, and shared his experience of working with mining companies in Angul district. As an example of industry involvement for TB, Dr Barik from National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) presented a snapshot of activities they have done since the signing of the Letter of Intent, and reiterated their resolve to supporting the TB programme.
Speaking on the occasion, Anupama Srinivasan, Deputy Project Director, REACH said, “We are committed to working in partnership with the State TB Cell and the Health Department to catalyse a multi-sectoral, community-led and collaborative response to TB in Odisha. We are confident that mining companies can develop and implement a workplace policy that is supportive of people with TB and establishes a working environment free of TB-related stigma and discrimination”.