Realising that Tuberculosis (TB) control needs corporate support and a lot of investment from the private sector and, a group of corporate leaders, including business tycoon Ratan Tata and actor Amitabh Bachchan, Thursday met US Ambassador to India Richard Verma and government of India officials to discuss how their direct involvement can help eradicate the deadly disease.
Bachchan was also officially declared as the national ambassador of TB control programme. The actor, who had contracted the infection in 2000 and was under heavy medication for a year, was also the city ambassador for its fight against TB this year. “As a person who has gone through the treatment process, I understand the stigma that people, specially women, go through after contracting TB. Marriage proposals stop coming if the news of TB spreads,” Bachchan said, adding that the disease has become a national issue and that it has been affecting people across socio-economic barriers.
“However, we have not partnered with anyone as yet. But many foreign companies are also ready to help,” Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services, said.
According to him, four people lose their lives to TB every minute in India making it a hotbed of the infection. Under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), the government is now offering free medication to tuberculosis patients undergoing private treatment.
US ambassador to India, Richard Verma, said, “The US has invested close to $100 million for TB prevention in the last 18 years. We need multi-sectoral approach in which partners, public and private, should collaborate.”
According to government officials, the idea is to encourage private sector and corporates to adopt slums and different districts for comprehensive TB control as part of their corporate social responsibility.