A group of Indian MPs has come together to launch a fight against tuberculosis (TB) in the country. They have planned to start a massive awareness drive and also seeking a special fund to develop a new anti-TB drug. It is stated that at least two people die of the infectious disease every three minutes.
Around 20 MPs have decided to form a group next month and to persuade other parliamentarians, from both houses, to join the movement in creating awareness about the preventable disease in their constituencies. They have also decided to join the British Parliamentary Group on Global TB, which has been working in this field for some time.
"Though TB is curable yet thousands of people die every year due to lack of awareness. We will appeal to our colleagues to take the fight to the grassroots," said M. Jagannath, chairman of the Indian Medical Parliamentary Forum (IMPF).
"We had a fruitful interaction with a five-member British parliamentary delegation on this issue and will cooperate to fight this health menace together. We also urged them to continue to fund the TB control program in India," Jagannath told IANS after meeting the British MPs.
Every year, India witnesses nearly 1.8 million fresh TB cases.
"We have already talked to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Health Minister A. Ramadoss on better allocation of funds for diseases like TB and malaria," said R. Senthil, convenor-secretary of the IMPF.
"There has been no new drug to fight TB for the last 43 years. It is time India sets aside some special fund for this and persuades private companies to develop a new drug. We will take up these issues with the relevant authorities," Senthil added.
The five British MPs, led by Conservative MP Nick Herbert, are currently in India to study the TB situation.
On Tuesday, Indian MPs Shakeel Ahmad, Karan Singh Yadav, M. Jagannath, R. Senthil, and Arvind Sharma discussed the dramatic progress made by the Indian National TB Control Program in expanding its DOTS (Directly-Observed Treatment Short-course) program and also some of the major challenges that still need to be addressed.
"We are happy over the concern of Indian parliamentarians and hope that their efforts would help people globally in general and Indians in particular in the fight against TB," said Herbert, co-chair of the British Parliamentary Group on Global TB.
Jagannath said that they would also suggest that provisions should be made so that willing MPs can spend a portion of their local area development fund for the TB control program.