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Need more awareness about TB: PM
March 24, 2004 15:46 IST
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Wednesday said India had made great progress in fighting tuberculosis and by 2005, the entire country would be covered by the internationally recommended DOTS (short duration treatment course for TB) strategy.
However, awareness about the disease is still low, he said in Delhi while inaugurating the second meeting of the Stop TB Partners Forum.
The Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP), which was launched in 1997, had so far prevented 2.6 million infections and saved 500,000 lives. The DOTS strategy under this programme covered 800 million people and by 2005 it would cover the entire country.
"It seems to me that mass awareness campaigns about TB are not commensurate with the threat it poses. In recent years, people's awareness about HIV/AIDS has increased significantly. We need a similar approach in the case of TB," he said. As in the case of other communicable diseases, the most effective tool for prevention and treatment of TB is mass awareness. Even today not all TB patients knew it is completely curable, he said.
"We should take the TB control programme beyond ministries and government agencies. We should fully involve private medical practitioners, drug companies, business houses, the mass media, NGOs, religious organisations and even popular icons from the fields of sports and films in this endeavour," the prime minister said.
Highlighting the close link between TB and poverty, Vajpayee said, "Malnutrition, congested living conditions and unhealthy working environments predispose the poor to this killer disease. We need to remove these disease-breeding conditions by improving the quality of life of the poor and weaker sections of our society."
However, those not poor are also vulnerable to this disease. Smoking is to blame for half the TB deaths among Indian men, Vajpayee said.He said that the country had intensified the drive to eradicate many communicable diseases. "We are gearing up to eradicate polio by 2005," he said adding leprosy had reached near elimination levels and country would reach the elimination target by 2005.
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