Tuberculosis (TB) continues to plague the Indian public health system with drastically high infection and morbidity rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) TB statistics for India for 2019 estimated TB incidence 2.4 million cases, with estimates showing that close to 40% of the Indian population is infected with TB bacteria, with India losing approximately 32 billion USD annually to the disease. Even after years of ongoing battle, an ardent political administrative commitment and rapid policy response, as incredible as it is for COVID-19, remains awry for TB. The government has called for the elimination of TB by 2025, and there is a National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2017 – 2025 with ambitious ideas to help achieve the targets set forth.
The focus of TB prevention, care and control is to detect all TB cases early and provide them with the effective treatment in a patient centric approach which will be able to reduce our TB morbidity rates and in turn stop TB transmission. The National Strategic Plan (NSP) plans to provide incentives to private providers for following the standard protocols for diagnosis and treatment as well as for notifying the government of cases, with cash transfers to compensate patients for their costs provided in completion of the treatment.
Now more than ever, it is time to augment our efforts towards eliminating TB. As COVID-19 takes center stage, this risks our plans and derails all our efforts undertaken while setting us back a couple of decades with regard to our fight with TB. Diagnoses have dropped nearly 75% in India due to the lockdown, and as early detection plays a pivotal role, India needs to step up its efforts in simultaneously dealing with these deadly diseases, and not let our TB crisis be swept under the carpet.
CII recognises the major role Industry can play in fighting TB and actively supports the government towards its national mandate of eliminating TB, 5 years ahead of the targeted SDG completion. CII has commenced the TB Free Workplaces Campaign with multiple critical stakeholders who will help us reach to the ground level as well as make this a management agenda for companies. This initiative is partnered with the Central TB Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare through a signed Memorandum of Understanding, along with Global Fund.
The Campaign began with a sign up to the TB Free Workplaces Pledge by Member Company CEOs followed by a phased introduction to the CII developed toolkit.
The toolkit includes a teaching app, a web portal for education, and a Best practices compendium – a live document for corporate Best practices in TB Prevention/ de-stigmatization; inspiring other corporate members to carry out small initiatives at their workplaces that bring about positive behavior change. CII also convened six State Regional roundtables, as of date, since September 2020. These state discussions were organized to bring together key policy makers & healthcare providers to deliberate and discuss how India can make progress in TB disease care and management alongside the private sector. This ongoing activity sensitizes companies/ large organizations on TB and its impact on productivity for businesses. Therefore, the rationale is to have as many such consultations as possible till every company, and every industry is brought into these deliberations and sensitized on the importance of a TB Free Workplace.
On World TB Day, CII showcased a short film on the growing Industry participation and the commitment towards making their workplaces TB Free. The video captured significant activities undertaken by CII towards supplementing the national mandate and captured commendable initiatives of Indian corporates in curbing TB in their workplaces.
CII through its TB Free Workplaces campaign, hopes to reach over 10,000 direct members and its indirect membership of three hundred thousand companies and their workforce and families, thus complementing the Government of India’s efforts to eradicate TB by 2025.