New Delhi: Today marked the official release of the Tuberculosis Call to Action Project’s impact report. 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 impact report summarizes the key results and achievements of this project, which has been running in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh since 2016.
In his remarks at the release event, Mr. Sanjeeva Kumar, IAS, Special Secretary at the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, lauded the project for its approach in bringing together multiple stakeholders, in particular, those affected by TB. “The person affected by TB is the primary stakeholder of any health intervention, and the focus on this aspect must remain sharp if we are to end TB.”
The project saw over 300 TB survivors from the six states trained as TB Champions. These Champions, in turn, provided support services to over 12,000 people with TB and conducted awareness campaigns that reached180,000 others. In addition to these efforts, the report highlights the positive impact of survivor-led networks, which include over 1,500 TB survivors across the country.
At the event, TB survivors and Champions described how their lives had been impacted by TB and shared their experiences working with people affected by TB in their districts, dealing with discrimination and the stigma associated with the disease, and the knowledge and skills they gained from participating in the endeavor.
Releasing Katha: Tales of Hope for a TB-free India, a coffee-table book featuring the Champions and other key influencers, Dr. K.S. Sachadeva, Deputy Director General of the Central TB Division at the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, congratulated and thanked all the individuals featured in the book and expressed his admiration for their commitment to eliminating TB. “The only way to see the end of TB by 2025 is if we involve all stakeholders, including the affected community, TB survivors, their families, workplaces, industries, and elected representatives,” he added.
Also speaking on the occasion, Sangita Patel, Director of USAID/India’s Health Office, remarked on how the project sought to amplify and support India’s response to TB by involving previously unengaged stakeholders and broadening the conversation around the disease. This was accomplished in part by supporting and strengthening the community response to TB while at the same time advocating for increased financial, intellectual, and other resources to combat it.
Thanking the various partners and stakeholders in the state, Dr. Ramya Ananthakrishnan, Director of REACH, said, “Throughout the project period, we have seen the commitment from elected representatives, industry leaders, the media, celebrities, and most of all TB survivors towards a common goal of TB elimination. We are grateful to have worked in partnership with the Central TB Division and the State TB Cells to catalyze a multi-sectoral, community-led, and collaborative response to TB.”
Other stakeholders such as senior health officials and State TB Officers from the project states, elected representatives, including Dr. Neeraj Bora, MLA Lucknow North, Shri Amit Kumar, MLA Sitamarhi, Bihar and Shri Kunal Sarangi, former MLA, Baharagora, Jharkhand, and industry representatives, were also present.
An acronym for Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health, REACH was established in 1999 in response to the rolling out of the Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) in Tamil Nadu. This meeting was organised in keeping with REACH’s mandate under the TB Call to Action Project supported by USAID. Through this project, REACH prioritised 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. Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh were priority states for the project.