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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday set deadline of 2025 to free India from tuberculosis (TB), five years ahead of the global deadline set by World Health Organisation (WHO).
"The deadline to eradicate TB from the world has been set at 2030. But I declare that India would be free from tuberculosis five years ahead by 2025. The target is set," said Modi in his inaugural address at Delhi End TB Summit at Vigyan Bhawan.
He said the Delhi summit, organised by India's Health and Family Welfare Ministry, WHO South East Asia Region and Stop TB Partnership, is a landmark event before the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018 as it is an important step for entire humanity.
India is confident of achieving its target of 2025 as the government is following a new approach with multi-sectoral interventions, said the Prime Minister
The disease was declared as an emergency 25 years ago and since then several countries have tried different measures to check the disease but with limited success, and there was a need to change the approach of tackling the problem advocating for a more holistic approach, he added,
"India has launched a new approach and strategy to eradicate TB from the country. The National Strategic Plan is fully operation," he said.
In 2016, the number of tuberculosis related deaths in India was more than 400,000, about one-third of the total number of global toll.
Modi said immunisation in India had been going on for 30-35 years but at the prevailing rate of one per cent in 2014, another 40 years would have been required. "In the last three-and-a-half years, the rate has gone up to six per cent. By next year, I am confident of achieving 90 per cent immunisation in the country."
Elaborating how the immunisation rate was increased, he said that the government had first identified the districts and regions out of its coverage and then the 'Mission Indradhanush', targeting these areas with better vaccines, medicines and deeper engagement at ground level, was launched.
Terming frontline TB physicians and workers a crucial part of the TB Free India Campaign, he said those patients who overcome this disease also inspire others.
"It is easier to get cured from TB than to stop watching TV," he said and added people should encourage TB patients for correct treatment by generating awareness at local level.
He also said that the government has established India TB Research Consortium to strengthen vaccines, medicines, diagnosis and implementation, and as the states have a key role to play in this regard, he has personally written to all Chief Ministers to join in the campaign.
Urging the Health and Family Welfare Ministry to increase the research work being done in ayurveda for finding cure for tuberculosis, he said: "India will supoport all countries needing first line drugs, commodities and technical support to fight TB."
The Prime Minister also listed down other measures like Swachh Bharat Mission, the Ujjwala Yojana, Nutrition Mission and National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) for medical insurance that would help India eradicate TB by 2025.