A VADODARA based environmental health organisation, the Occupational and Environmental Network of India (OEHNI), has approached the Union health ministry with regard to screening and interventions under the National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis (TB) Elimination (2017-2025) and associated policies being implemented by the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP).
In a letter written to Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health and Family Welfare minister, the organisation has urged the implementation of measures to help achieve the goal of eliminating TB in India by 2030.
“For more than a hundred years, silica dust has been linked to higher TB prevalence rates among workers in dusty occupations. Multiple studies from India and abroad have demonstrated that silica dust exposures among miners, workers in building, construction, stone cutting/crushing, pottery, steel and allied factory, ceramic, thermal power and other such professions increases the risk of active TB by three to four times. The combination of silicosis and HIV further increases the risk of acquiring active TB by 15 times,” the letter read.
“The recent United Nations General Assembly Declaration from the high-level meeting on TB requires countries to commit to implementing primary prevention in high-risk occupations by reducing silica dust exposures in dusty workplaces. Efforts to target vulnerable workers and communities should incorporate training, with strategies to implement silica-dust control measures.
Published studies have demonstrated that the adoption of low-cost wet processing methods in India can reduce respirable silica dust among highly-exposed workers by 80% in these operations,” the letter added.