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'Need to fight TB together by rising above political differences'

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: February 2, 2019  | 21:52 IST

New Delhi, Feb 2 (PTI) Leaders from various parties, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Bollywood actor Sohail Khan and international health experts Saturday gathered here for a summit and highlighted that society needs to fight tuberculosis together by rising above "political differences". The two-day TB-Free India Summit 2019 also saw participation of Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar, Union minister Vijay Goel, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh and Lok Sabha member Anurag Thakur, among others. The summit, which kicked off Saturday with an exhibition cricket match, is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a TB-free India by 2025, Thakur said and read out the message sent by him on the occasion. "Our government has taken the goal to make India tuberculosis-free by 2025. 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," Modi said in his message. He said this summit will go a long way in drawing up an "implementable roadmap to wipe out TB". Khattar, during the opening session of the event held at the National Stadium here, said, "We need to fight TB together as a society. We need to rise above political differences to combat this disease." Punjab Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Vijay Inder Singla, who also attended it spoke about the state-wide campaign 'Tandarust Punjab' running there and read out a message sent by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. The 2025 vision to achieve a TB-free India and this summit as part of it "would help in evolving a consensus to formulate an action to eradicate TB in a targeted and result-oriented manner". Mahajan, who attended the second session, said sometimes ignoring minor symptoms like coughing and early anaemia leads to a life-long ailment. "We need to have a healthy lifestyle, eat nutritious food and do exercise... If we can join hands and work together, we can beat TB even before 2025," she said. The event was organised by Paris-based health organisation The Union, Geneva-based The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, among other partners, with active involvement of Hamirpur MP Thakur. In 2017, 10 million people fell ill with TB and 1.6 million died from the disease. TB, a preventable and curable disease, now kills more people than HIV/AIDS and is the world's largest infectious disease killer, The Union said in a statement issued for the summit. "India has the highest TB burden in the world with one in four people ill with TB globally residing in the country. The scale of the TB global health emergency was acknowledged by the United Nations, which held the inaugural high-level meeting on TB in New York last September, culminating in a Political Declaration signed by world leaders committed to ending TB by 2030," it said. TB incidence in India has been declining at an annual rate of 1.7 per cent since 2016, but it is estimated that it needs to fall by some 10 per cent annually if the 2025 elimination target is to be achieved, The Union said. Marijke Wijnroks, Chief of Staff at the Global Fund, an international financing organisation, said, "Ending a preventable and curable disease like TB in India and globally is achievable. But it will require sustained funding and the kind of political commitment being shown by the Indian government to get us there." The Global Fund recently announced that it is aiming for donors to pledge at least USD 14 billion in funding at its replenishment meeting to be held in Lyon, France, in October this year, which it says will help save 16 million lives from the combined diseases of AIDS, TB and malaria, the statement said. "Ahead of the Lyon replenishment, the Global Fund will hold a preparatory meeting in Delhi on February 7-8 aiming for donors," Wijnroks said. AAP's Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh and actor Sohail Khan distributed prizes after the match between Punjab XI and Haryana XI, which was won by Punjab. "We have to rise above political differences to fight TB, that is the way to defeat it, and hit it for a six, as symbolised by the match here," Singh said. Khan said he will help raise awareness in Mumbai and in his film fraternity to contribute towards the collective fight against it. PTI KND KJ

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