London: Urging policymakers and experts attending an international conference here to find new solutions for tuberculosis — new diagnostics, new drugs, shorter regimens and an effective vaccines — Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, a TB survivor, said everyone has a role to play in ending the epidemic.
In his video message to nearly 4,000 delegates and participants from 130 countries at 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Liverpool on Wednesday, Bachchan stressed on the importance of ending the stigma and discrimination associated with the TB.
“Each of us has a role to play. We need our political leaders to commit at the highest level, in each of our countries, to provide the much-needed services to the most marginalised and vulnerable populations. We need to pool our resources to find effective solutions,” said Bachchan.
The four-day conference with the theme — Confronting Resistance: Fundamentals to Innovations — will continue till October 29. “We need new diagnostics that make it easy to detect TB and new drugs that can shorten the course of treatment. And most importantly, we need an effective vaccine,” Bachchan, who is also Ambassador for ‘Call to Action for TB-Free India’, added.
In April 2015, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, launched the Call to Action For A TB-Free India to unite important stakeholders in collaborative efforts to put an end to the disease Bachchan spoke of how he was diagnosed with TB of the spine in the year 2000, at a time when he was hosting a popular Indian television show.
He underwent rigorous treatment and was thankful for the exceptional support he received from his doctors and family that helped him recover and resume work. The superstar pointed out that unfortunately, not all patients in India have access to the same quality of care that he received, and many with TB or multidrug resistant TB are not diagnosed early enough and/or drop out of treatment because of side effects or the long duration.
He highlighted the fact that though TB disproportionately affects the poor, it is not only the poor who suffer from TB as it is an airborne infectious disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India is home to 2.8 million people with TB.
“Over a quarter of all patients with TB are in India. Basic TB programmes must be effectively carried out, patients should receive treatment as soon as possible and there should be increased funding for TB research and development. Any and all resistance to the TB epidemic must be ended,” said Jamie Tonsing, Regional Director, The Union South East Asia Office.