The US and India have formed an alliance comprising leading experts in public and private sectors to combat the menace of tuberculosis, an American official said. US Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Mark Green announced the formation of USAID-India End TB Alliance at an event in New York in presence of Union Health Minister JP Nadda. Green said the experts in the alliance will offer innovative approaches to combat tuberculosis in India. Alliance members include industry and civil society leaders, academics, scientists, innovators, investors, and members of the diaspora. Two alliance members – Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of the World Health Organization, and Blessina Kumar from the Global Coalition of TB Activists – were present during the announcement. India accounts for 27 percent of the world’s TB cases, with 421,000 deaths per year, Green said. That’s one person dying every minute, he added.
Referring to his visit to India in November, he said he met with a group of TB survivors and their families and learnt about the barriers to testing and treatment they face. “I was especially moved by those who were initially deterred from seeking treatment because of stigma but persevered, and now those same people, mostly women, are working as patient advocates, supporting others who are also struggling with stigma,” Green said. “A major reason for hope in India is that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has made an ambitious, but determined commitment to achieve a TB-free India by 2025,” he said. USAID is making an initial USD 30 million commitment, subject to the approval of the US Congress, Green said. – The Hindu BusinessLine