New Delhi: On World TB Day observed today, over 180 TB Survivors and Champions from over 140 districts across six states of India pledged to end stigma related to TB. Speaking at several national, state and district level meetings, the TB Champions shared their experiences of how they had defeated TB and reaffirmed their commitment to supporting India’s efforts to eliminate TB.
Speaking at the World TB Day observation organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in Delhi, Anjana Singh, a TB Champion from Bihar said, “Seeing how stigma associated with TB resulted in the death of my close friend, I have taken a vow to help other TB patients so that they don’t meet the same end.”
The TB Champions organized rallies and sensitization meetings at which they distributed body stickers with anti-discrimination messages. Through the campaign, TB Champions called on key stakeholders and community members to take a pledge to not stigmatize or discriminate against anyone with TB. The awareness drives involved the participation of panchayati raj institutions, schools, local self-help groups and the community at large.
At the World TB Day Observation in Guwahati, Assam, TB Champion Kushal Patowary said, “We can see TB in a different light because we have been victims of discrimination ourselves. It is high time we stand together against the stigma related to TB in our society. Our duty is to motivate others affected by TB through our stories and experiences. We need to convey the message that treatment is available for TB, which is a curable disease.”
The TB Survivors and Champions have an important role in ending stigma and discrimination related to TB. Since 2017, through the TB Call to Action Project, REACH has trained over 300 TB Survivors though capacity-building workshops and mentorship programmes in partnership with the respective State TB Cells and with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
TB Champion Khageshwar, speaking at the State TB Cell’s World TB Day observation in Jharkhand, said, “TB doesn’t kill people in my village but discrimination and stigma does.”
In Odisha, TB Champion Arun Nayak urged the community to lend a helping hand to eliminate TB. “As a TB Champion, I am rendering my services in my community to prevent and eliminate TB. I request all of you to do the same,” he said while speaking at a meeting organised by the State TB Cell.