Growing political commitment of governments globally to #endTB is indeed welcoming but governments need to walk the talk too to #endTB and deliver on promises of integrated sustainable development by 2030.
Reality check on any specific indicator to show progress made towards ending TB will raise serious concerns regarding meeting these commitments in a timely manner. For example, TB decline rate is not that encouraging as TB needs to decline annually at least ten times more than the current rate of TB decline. The latest WHO Global TB Report shows that new TB cases in India rose (not declined) to 2.8 million in 2015 (from 2.2 million in 2014) and TB deaths rose to 480,000 in 2015 (from 220,000 TB deaths in 2014). Cases of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) rose by 11% in 2015 in India compared to previous year.
Undoubtedly to #endTB by 2030 globally, business as usual is not an option
“Engaging health and non-health ministries, and other sectors as effectively and as well coordinated as possible, will help to accelerate the fight to end TB by 2030” said Shobha Shukla, Executive Director of CNS (Citizen News Service) and senior advisor to Vote For Health campaign of Asha Parivar.
The WHO and partners are hosting a Global Ministerial Meeting on inter-sectoral response in SDGs era in Moscow, Russia in November 2017. A high-level meeting on TB around UN General Assembly in 2018 is also on the cards. Indian government recently committed to end TB by 2025. Even with this high magnitude of political commitment stemming the TB tide is still challenging though seems more doable than ever before.
Cricket with a difference: Every team unites to #endTB
An innovative way to engage different ministers of health and non-health ministries and other sectors such as film stars is the friendly cricket match between Members of Parliament (MPs) team and film stars' team. MPs team is led by MP Anurag Thakur and film stars team is led by Bobby Deol. This friendly match will be held in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India, a day after World Health Day 2017 and TB Free India Summit.
JP Nadda, Minister for Health and Family Welfare; Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation; Minister for Information and Broadcasting; Mark A White of US Agency for International Development (USAID) India; Jose Luis Castro, Executive Director of International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union); WHO India's Dr Henk Bekedam; are among the prominent speakers at TB Free India Summit on World Health Day 2017.
Other film stars and MPs who will take part include Manoj Tiwari, Deepinder Singh Hooda, Shahnawaz Hussain, Mohammad Azharuddin, Gaurav Gogoi, Suniel Shetty, Jimmy Shergill, Sonu Sood, Aftab Shivdasani, Mahesh Manjrekar, among others.
Coordinating between public and private health sectors a challenge
Since Government of India made TB a notifiable disease mandating private health sector to notify every TB case in May 2012, there is some progress but certainly not an optimal one. According to the latest WHO Global TB Report, private health sector's TB notification went up to 14.4 cases per hundred thousand in 2015 (from 3 cases per hundred thousand). This is certainly an area where more work needs to happen. The issue of coordinating and linking up the private and public sectors efficiently so as to progress faster towards ending TB in India will also be on the agenda of forthcoming TB Free India Summit in Dharamshala on World Health Day 2017.
The intent to notify TB is to ensure that every person who has TB gets diagnosed accurately, receives effective standard anti-TB therapy without delay and gets cured.
Coming together of health and non-health ministries and other sectors is certainly a big step forward. We do hope this translates into public health gains and helps in catalyzing the efforts to eliminate TB at the earliest.
(Bobby Ramakant is a WHO Director General's WNTD Awardee and Health Editor and Policy Director of CNS (Citizen News Service). Follow him on Twitter @bobbyramakant or visit: www.citizen-news.org)