Union Health Minister,
Minister of State for Health,
Nigeria Health Minister,
Indonesia Health Minister,
Director General of World Health Organization,
Other dignitaries present on the stage,
Guests from all over the world,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All of you have come to India to attend the 'End TB Summit'. I am very thankful to you and welcome you from the core of my heart.
Tuberculosis (TB) was declared an emergency by the World Health Organization nearly 25 years ago. Since then, various efforts have been made to prevent TB in different countries. Of course, we all have come a long way, have done extensive work for elimination of TB but the ground reality is that we still have not been successful in stopping TB.
I believe that when a task is being done for ten years or twenty years without the expected results then we should think about changing our approach. We need to analyse the way the work is being done on ground and the way the plans are being implemented, in a very broad way. When you seriously analyze old processes, the path of new approaches opens up.
I am glad that with this thought, India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, together with the WHO, South East Asia Region and Stop TB Partnership, have brought representatives from many countries of Asia, Africa and the world together on a single platform today. A major meeting of the General Assembly will be held in the United Nations in September this year. Today's preparations for this meeting are very important for the entire humanity. I hope that the "Delhi End TB Summit" will prove to be a landmark event to eradicate TB permanently.
Recently, another related initiative of India has completed one year. Last year, the proposal of "Delhi Call for Action to End TB in the WHO South East Asia Region by 2030" was accepted with consensus. Processes initiated after this proposal are coming out as a very positive initiative towards ending TB in the South East Asia region. Given the way TB affects people's lives, health of society, impacts on country's economy and country's future, it is now indispensable to get rid of TB within the stipulated time. In India, the impact of TB is more than any communicable disease and most of its victims are also poor. Therefore, every step taken to eliminate TB is linked directly to the life of the poor.
2030 is the deadline fixed for eliminating TB across the world.
But today I am announcing from this forum that India has decided to end TB 5 years before the target year i.e. by 2025 instead of 2030. Our Government is following a new approach with a new strategy for the mission of eradicating TB from India . You have also seen a glimpse of the new strategic initiatives that have been initiated by the Government of India in the presentation. All stakeholders are responsible for the elimination of TB and our government is motivating them to work together.
Brothers & Sisters,
The National Strategic Plan, which was created to eliminate TB in India by 2025, is now fully operational. The budget is being constantly increased by the government for the schemes related to TB. In this year's budget, our government has made provision to spend an extra $ 100 million per year to provide nutritious support to the patients suffering from this disease. Direct financial support is being transferred from the government to the bank accounts of the patients who are not financially sound to buy nutritional support. We are working in the direction of ensuring correct identification of TB patients, timely information about active cases, effectiveness of the medicines, tracking drug-resistant TB. The government is also engaging the private sector in these schemes with the principle of 'Treat every TB patient best at the very first opportunity'. Besides, our emphasis is on the maximum use of technology and new innovations. State-of-the-art Information & Communication Technology systems and related platforms are being developed based on Internet-of-Things. For the management of the program, modern technology is being used to provide mobile-health solutions for treatment monitoring and for disease surveillance.
We also developed the indigenous molecular diagnostic machine for reading Digital X-Ray. This machine-based Artificial Intelligence has been named True NAAT. This machine also emphasizes upon the campaign of Make in India. India TB Research Consortium has also been set up to further strengthen the TB related subjects like vaccine, better medicines, diagnostics and implementation.
State governments are also playing a major role to eradicate TB from India. I have written letters to all the Chief Ministers of the country urging them to join the campaign in order to gain the support of the State Governments, strengthening the spirit of Cooperative Federalism. The presence of the ministers from the states and the related officials in such a large number is the evidence of our determination as a Team India to eliminate TB from our country.
Frontline TB physicians and workers have a vital role to play in getting rid of TB irrespective of the country where the mission is being carried out. Moreover, the people who take regular medicines, gets treatment and defeats the disease after getting infected with TB, is also praise-worthy. The patient of TB, who conquers this disease with his willpower, becomes an inspiration for others. I firmly believe that with the help of patients' willpower and our passionate TB workers, every country in this world along with India will be successful in achieving this goal. Here, I will specifically ask the people in the Health Sector from India to do their best because the deadline of TB Free India for them is 2025 instead of 2030. We will continue to implement policies on the ground in the right way and with the right strategy. So no one can stop us from achieving this goal.
We can achieve our goal by connecting as many people as possible, by making people aware at the local level, by examining methods of treatment for TB, i.e. multi-sectoral engagement is needed. For this, every level of government and administration, panchayat, municipality, district administration, state government, must utilize its complete strength to make 'TB Free Village, Panchayat, district or state at their own level.
For some people, meeting the target of TB free India by 2025, seem to be difficult to achieve. But, this is not impossible. For the past four years our government is working with a new approach to achieve this and it can be possible to achieve the goal.
Brothers & Sisters,
We do not see problems, challenges in isolation. When efforts are made to deal with these challenges in a holistic manner, the results can definitely be achieved. I do not want to criticize anyone but I want to tell you about our immunization programme here. Immunization in India has been going on for 30-35 years. Nevertheless, until 2014 we were unable to achieve the goal of complete coverage. If we had continued with the same pace, India would have taken 40 more years to reach the universal coverage under immunization.
Our immunization coverage was growing at a speed of just one per cent. Now, in just three-three and a half years, this has increased to more than 6 per cent per annum and in the next one year, we are going to achieve the goal of 90 per cent immunization coverage. Our guests from other countries must be wondering that how was this possible?
The new approach that I have been talking about, is the reason behind it. We first marked those districts of the country and those areas which were out of the ongoing immunization coverage for years or the areas where vaccination was going on just for the sake of it. By targeting these areas our government started Mission Indradhanush, added new medicines for vaccination and started working on ground level. Today we can clearly see the results.
With such a new approach our government is also working on Swachh Bharat Mission. As a result, the per centage of cleanliness in the rural areas of the country which was almost 40 per cent in 2014 has now increased to almost 80 per cent. In such a short time, we have doubled the coverage. We are rapidly moving towards open defecation free India by October 2019. I am giving these two examples today on this international forum because I want to emphasize again in front of every country that huge and cumbersome goals can be achieved. Yes, the first requirement for that is to set a goal. When the goal is not fixed, neither can you move ahead nor will you be able to reach the destination.
I am convinced that India will fulfill its resolution to become TB free by 2025 with this enthusiasm by moving towards a fixed target with fixed strategy. Friends, all of you are Health Sector Experts. You understand very well that multi-sectoral interventions are needed to eliminate any disease. I have told you about many interventions such as medicines, monitoring of treatment, research, financial assistance for nutritious diet to tackle TB. But along with this, there are some other initiatives that are going on in India which can prove to be very helpful in reducing the effects of TB. One of them is Swach Bharat Mission, about which I have told you in detail. Likewise, the Ujjwala Yojana of the Government of India is also playing a vital role in reducing TB cases. Under this scheme, the government is working to provide free gas connections to 8 crore poor women. With LPG connections at home, the women, their children and their families are getting rid of smoke from firewood and are also reducing the risk of catching TB. Four days back, on International Women's day, our government has started a national level Poshan Mission. The purpose of this mission is not only to give nutritious food to the people but also to create an eco-system in which the probability of malnutrition is minimal.
In this year's budget, India has announced the world's largest health assurance scheme. This scheme is named as Ayushman Bharat meaning "Long Live India". Through this our government will work to strengthen the primary, secondary and tertiary health care-system in the country. 1.5 lakh health and wellness centers are being set up by the government in the country. These wellness centers will serve as primary health care centres, where there will be diagnostic services and people will also be provided with cheap medicines. In addition to this, 10 crore poor families will get health assurance of Rs 5. lakh per annum for the treatment of serious diseases.
Brothers & Sisters,
Our Indian philosophy and Indian ancient science have always been very clear about health. We have been told here-
सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः,
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु, मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।
May All be Happy, May All be Free from Illness
May all see what is auspicious, May no one Suffer.
Due to this philosophy, scientific methods like Ayurveda and Yoga were born on the land of India. This is ingrained in the Indian minds for hundreds of years. These methods of curative, Promotive and Preventive Health Care are now getting international recognition. Our government is also moving ahead with the confluence of ancient Indian practices and modern medical practices. I will also urge the Ministry of Health to increase the scope of research on the contribution of Ayurveda in the diagnosis of TB and its results should be shared with our fellow countries. Our mantra of 'Sabka sath Sabka Vikas' is not limited to regional boundaries. To create a TB Free World, India is happily ready to move hand-in-hand with every country. We will cooperate with every country which requires first line drugs, commodities and technical support in the fight against TB.
The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had said that any plan is successful or unsuccessful depending upon its impact on the last needy person. Our government is committed to reach out to that last needy person and improve his ease of living.
Today, on this occasion, I urge every person, every government, every institution and every representative from the civil society to take up this resolution of playing an active role in building a TB-Free India and reaching out to that last person affected by TB.
The resolution of a TB-Free India will also help in fulfilling the resolution of a TB-Free World.
I conclude my speech with my best wishes to you all for this great resolution. Thank you very much for attending this event. Thank you!