U.S. Ambassador to India Richard R. Verma was joined today by Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, the Government of India’s Brand Ambassador for theCall to Action for a TB-free India, civil society, health workers, patient advocates, and corporate representatives for a reception in anticipation of World Tuberculosis Day on March 24.
Aimed at keeping up the recent momentum behind collaborative TB efforts, the Roosevelt House reception focused attention on TB survivors. The program included insights from and a short documentary on Ms. Deepti Chavan, a multi-drug resistant TB survivor and active patient advocate. Several other survivors spoke, including Mr. Bachchan. Their testimonies were an emotional reminder of the urgency behind the fight to end TB in India.
“Working with the Government of India and Indian partners, the U.S. Government has invested close to $100 million to prevent and control TB in India, and has helped to treat over 15 million people in the last 18 years. All of our work is inspired by and is entirely for the courageous survivors like those here today. They are the reason why we are motivated to do all we can to reach every person with TB, cure those in need of treatment, and prevent new TB infections. Each of us has an important role in this fight to end TB under the leadership of the Government of India. Working together and leveraging our combined capacities, we can win this fight,” said Ambassador Verma.
Mr. Bachchan echoed those sentiments, adding his unique perspective on the challenges that many patients face. “Stigma and discrimination against people with TB can occur anywhere – in the workplace, healthcare facilities, within the community, and even in their own homes. The fear of discrimination prevents people from seeking timely help, making the disease harder to treat. Being a TB survivor myself, I have a deep and more direct connect to the campaign. I hope I can help to spread awareness, and reduce the stigma associated with TB. I believe that working together we can eliminate TB just like polio was eradicated in India: through collective action to improve awareness, prevention and care,” said Mr. Bachchan.
The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is committed to ending TB in India. NIH is supporting groundbreaking research to help us better understand the basic biology of TB and find new ways to tackle it; CDC is working to identify and test new ways to diagnose drug-resistant TB; and USAID is supporting the Indian government’s Call to Action For a TB-Free India.