Honorable Shri Narendra Modi,
Government of India
Respected Shri Modi,
We, the undersigned, would like to bring to your attention, the alarming situation of Tuberculosis (TB) in India, its resultant suffering and the urgent need for enhanced efforts to combat TB.
As you may be aware, India has the highest TB burden globally with close to 2.2 million new cases each year. TB is preventable and treatable, yet causes endless suffering and kills 3 lakh Indians each year.
Most prevalent among the 15-54 age group, TB is an engine of poverty. It impacts household income, acerbates poverty and destroys lakhs of families. Its annual costs to India stand at a staggering USD 23.7 billion. Within communities, TB related stigma can lead to patient abuse and neglect and even abandonment for women.
The rise of Drug Resistant TB (DR TB) is a cause of grave concern with cases of Total Drug Resistance being reported in Mumbai in 2012. The treatment for DR TB is extremely long and expensive with an exceedingly poor cure rate. Due to the social determinants of health such as poor housing and nutrition, India's poorest are most vulnerable to TB and DR TB and continue to suffer.
We appeal to you to take immediate action to combat TB. It is imperative that every Indian regardless of whether they seek care in the public or private sectors must have access to free accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for TB. Unless we do so, TB will continue to grow and thousands will suffer and die needlessly. It is also essential that TB affected families receive nutritional and economic support to protect them from further disease, poverty and death. Now is the time for the government to renew its commitment to providing Universal Access to Diagnostics and Treatment for All by 2017 as outlined in its excessively delayed National Strategic Plan. At the same time, departments of health, urban planning and sanitation must work together on issues of TB prevention.
As concerned citizens, many of whom are doctors, patient representative and social scientists we have compiled a set of suggestions that include urgent actions necessary for improving TB control in India. As our Prime Minister and a person dedicated to improving the lives of India's poor, we urge you to kindly consider these suggestions and initiate appropriate action on them. An important first step would be to create and chair a review committee on TB which includes all key stakeholders. Recognizing that no development is possible without good health, we believe enhancing TB control is our duty to our fellow Indians, and to future generations. We are hopeful you will make TB control one of your top priorities. We look forward to your continued engagement and support on this critical issue.
Concerned Citizens Against TB