Kolkata/New Delhi, Mar 10 : Over 30 members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and Legislative Assembly came together for the launch of the India TB Caucus, a network of elected representatives committed to end TB in India.
Led by its members, for its members, the Caucus will work collectively and individually to End TB in India.
The India TB Caucus will engage with political networks, the Government and civil society groups to raise the profile of the disease and confront the stigma and social isolation associated with it.
The meeting was jointly organized by International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union) and supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Global TB Caucus, Indian Association of Parliamentarians for Population and Development (IAPPD), Center for Legislative Research and Advocacy (CLRA), Global Coalition Against TB (GCAT), Global Health Strategies (GHS), REACH and Aequitas.
The members signed the India TB Caucus Declaration, pledging support for accelerating progress towards a TB-Free India.
P. J. Kurien, Deputy Chairman - Rajya Sabha agreed to be a patron of the India TB Caucus and announced the name of four co-chairs-Viplove Thakur; Kirit P Solanki; BN Goud; and Majeed Memon.
Welcoming the guests to the launch of India TB Caucus, Viplove Thakur, MP, Rajya Sabha said, Today, we are here to talk about an issue that needs urgent attention, especially from all the political representatives. It is very unfortunate that TB continues to be one of Indias greatest public health challenges. While Government of India is making efforts to address TB, all of us have a role to play. As we form the Cacus today, we commit to work collectively and individually in our capacity to end TB in India.
Majeed Memon, MP, Rajya Sabha, co-chair India TB Caucus, reiterated that given Indias high burden of TB, there is need for accelerated efforts make India TB-Free.
Gaoud, MP, Lok Sabha as co - chair committed all his efforts to end TB and said TB afffects most people and gets least attention as compared to other problems that affect lesser number ofpeople.
Kirit P Solanki, MP, Lok Sabha emphasized on the need for more funds and dedicated support sytem for TB patients and their families. He called upon Parliamnetarians to leverage their efforts and goodwill for the cause.
Senator Lisa Singh, MP, Australia, stated, TB is the worlds biggest infectious killer and 1.8 million people died of this disease in 2015. TB has killed as many people every year as HIV Malaria combined, yet it is a neglected disease. It is heartening to see how the Indian Government is pulling out all the stops to put an end to the TB epidemic in the country. Elimination of TB will only be achieved with consistent efforts over many years and I believe that in the months to come, the India TB Caucus will play a big role at both the government and grassroots village level to reduce the countrys burden of the disease.
Nguyen Van Tien, MP, Vietnam, stated, We, as parliamentarians have a responsibility and moral obligation to do whatever is in our power to reduce the TB burden. In the world, India is the fourth country to launch the India TB Caucus. The India TB Caucus is uniquely positioned to advocate for better and more effective policies and programmes to eliminate TB.
TB Survivor, Rhea Lobo shared her story and talked about the stigma associated with the disease. She said, Many people told me that TB is a poor mans disease but TB does not discriminate. It has no geographic, demographic or economic barrier, TB can be contracted by anyone. TB is the most pressing health concern in India today because it is highly communicable.
USAID supports the Government of Indias national campaign, the Call to Action for a TB-free India, by engaging parliamentarians, film actors, media, corporations and civil society.
Mark White, USAID/India Mission Director, stated: We must all work together to successfully turn the tide on TB. The TB Caucus will help to galvanize support for political representatives across the country to champion a TB-free India. With support from USAID, The Union played a vital role in the establishment of the Global TB Caucus and will serve as the secretariat for the India TB Caucus. Kavita Ayyagari, Project Director, Challenge TB, The Union commented, Parliamentarians have a wide sphere of influence, and The Union, in association with partners, is helping toincrease awareness and commitements to End TB in India.
The India TB Caucus is part of the Global TB Caucus, which is a unique network of political representatives with support in more than 130 countries