Meghalaya State TB Officer inform, first quarter 2022 around 1,075 patients have been notified

Shillong, June 23: The State TB Cell under National Health Mission, Meghalaya, conducted a press meet to share updates about the ongoing Tuberculosis (TB) elimination efforts being undertaken by the state government under the ‘TB Harega Desh Jeetega’ initiative.

Organized by the State TB Cell in Shillong, the meet witnessed attendance of Shri Ramkumar S., IAS, MD-National Health Mission, Meghalaya, journalists, and various government officials.

The meeting explored two important dimensions: The current status of Meghalaya’s efforts towards TB elimination, especially in a post-pandemic environment and the endeavours to catalyse a mass movement against TB.

In last few months, various initiatives have been undertaken to create awareness about Tuberculosis among people across the state. Intensive efforts have gone in to ensure availability of modern testing equipment.

Despite the pandemic impacting service delivery and TB notifications, innovative mitigation strategies were deployed to ensure that notifications were back to pre-pandemic levels.

The programme notified 4,189 TB cases in 2021 in Meghalaya. In the first quarter of 2022, around 1,075 patients have been notified and enrolled for treatment, said Dr M. Mawrie, State TB Officer.

Taking cognizance of the serious public health challenge posed by TB which affects over 26 lakh Indians each year, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi brought forward India’s TB elimination target to 2025, five years ahead of WHO’s Sustainable Development Goals.

To achieve this, the Central TB Division along with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), launched the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination (2017-25). It marked a paradigm shift, reorienting the programme’s focus to ensure greater community engagement.

The ministry launched the TB Mukt Bharat campaign, calling for a Jan Andolan or People’s Movement to build greater awareness, remove stigma and generate demand for services.

The press meet comes just three months after the release of the country’s National TB Prevalence Survey. The Survey indicated that approximately 64% of symptomatic Indians did not seek professional care for TB, indicating that building awareness continues to remain an important objective for the TB programmes.

On the efforts to build awareness and ensure last mile delivery of health services, Dr M. Mawrie added, “In the last few months, the TB Programme has been trying to screen for presumptive TB cases. Once identified as TB cases, they are being immediately enrolled for TB Treatment.

Various ongoing initiatives to eliminate TB include Active Case Finding (ACF) with the support of front-line health workers; collection of quality sputum from identified presumptive TB person for testing; organising a variety of awareness programmes on a regular basis for specific community groups such as faith leaders, traditional healers, tribal youth, tribal leaders and community influencers within tribal communities.”

Focusing on the lessons learnt from the pandemic for the fight against TB, Shri Ramkumar S., IAS, MD-National Health Mission, Meghalaya stated, “Looking at the profile of the state, TB is one of the top causes of deaths due to diseases. In recent time, the stellar community work of ASHA workers, and with concerted efforts, the state has been able to almost eliminate the menace of Malaria.

A similar effort is underway for TB as well. Lessons from managing the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled us to intensify our efforts against TB. For instance, now each health centre has TB screening and testing capability.

They  are now able to leverage technology better, making TB notifications easier through mobile applications. We are ensuring that pharmacies are not issuing drugs to patients without proper prescriptions of health experts”.

Addressing the journalists present, he further added that “This is an important meeting today. Media is an important partner that must continue to play a leading role of educating the public about TB, and take the message right to the community-level.”

Across Meghalaya, the spirit of the Jan Andolan or people’s movement against TB is taking shape. It is bringing people from all walks of life together to support state’s consistent effort to eliminate the disease. All participants at the meet undertook pledge to eliminate TB from their village, district or state. All citizens can come forward to take a pledge.


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