Gujarat health minister Rushikesh Patel on Tuesday said that with rising number of cases of Omicron variant, “social cooperation is essential”, apart from measures taken by the government to tackle a probable third wave, according to a press release by the Gujarat Information department.
Patel made the comment while inaugurating a three-day national public health conclave at Indian Institute of Public HealthGandhinagar (IIPH-G) on Tuesday
Gujarat on Tuesday reported 87 new cases of Covid-19 cases and two deaths, including one at Valsad. Valsad reported a death for the third consecutive day with the latest fatality being a 75-year-old man who was admitted at Valsad government hospital.
ACIES 2021 is the fourth Annual National Public Health Conclave being organised by and held at IIPHG, that will see participation from academia, public health students and public health specialists around the theme of empanelling science to policy.
At a session on people-centered framework for tuberculosis programme, state TB officer Satish Makwana said that “community engagement and political commitment” is necessary to end tuberculosis and for that reason Gujarat conducted a workshop among its MLAs a month ago to increase awareness about the disease in their respective constituencies.
“We have noticed that when we go to districts for review meetings, where district collectors or district development officers are involved in the review process, such districts show better outcomes in terms of better TB case notifications.” Makwana said.
Makwana added that TB Preventive Therapy (TPT) will be introduced in several districts such as at Dang, Botad, Porbandar, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Jamnagar and Surat Municipal Corporation “soon”.
“A project will be started on behalf of the state government to start TPT and the first meeting in this regard will be held on December 23…Six months ago, a TB prevalence survey was conducted all over India and 31 clusters in Gujarat were surveyed including two clusters in Ahmedabad. The result we got was that nearly 39 percent of the people in these clusters were infected with TB…Hence, the health department is especially focusing on eliminating TB.”
Dr Salil Bhargava, co-founder of CETI (Collaboration to Eliminate Tuberculosis Among Indians), and professor of chest and TB at MGM Medical College in Indore implored that half the battle with TB is won with airborne infection control and for the same, we must take lessons from Covid-19 and implement the same in TB.
“The crores of money we spent to tackle Covid-19, if we spent half of that, we can end TB in two years,” said Dr Bhargava while adding that a vaccine is needed for TB.
Gujarat National Health Mission (NHM) director Remya Mohan stressed on the need to sensitise all stakeholders, including healthcare providers, clinicians and medical practitioners, patients and their families. Mohan said that “Though TB kills in such large numbers, somehow we are not scared of TB (as we are for Covid-19)..That is why it is important to recognise the lives behind the numbers as well as the relevance of those numbers (of TB-related statistics).”
“When we talk about sustainable development goals or other aspects (of health such as) malnourishment, many times it is seen as just malnourishment but actually the cause could be TB…Another thing which we battle in India and Gujarat is maternal mortality and infant mortality. Many times, these are also people living with TB,” added Mohan.