World TB Day 2020
World TB Day is a day during which we advocate for improved TB diagnostics, access to treatment and reduced stigma. India still has one of the highest TB prevalence globally. Additionally, according to the India TB Report 2019, India currently has 27,000 Multi-Drug Resistant cases. In response to the prevalence of TB in India, the government has reiterated the ambitious target for eliminating TB by 2024, reflected in the National Strategic Plan. However, the current situation for TB diagnostics requires improved government action, and improved visibility and inclusion for all TB patients. A majority of TB patients are now choosing to access private treatment to avoid stigma: however, only a proportion of cases of TB were handled correctly by the private sector, due to misdiagnosis, diagnostic delay and treatment failure. Civil societies are now calling for improved diagnostic capacity, improved treatment access and the filling of vacancies within the RNTCP, to maximise treatment capacity. The theme for World TB Day 2020 is “It’s Time”. We believe it’s time to Test; it’s time to Talk; and it’s time to End Stigma.
Unfortunately, given the global pandemic of “coronavirus”, we were unable to run an event to celebrate World TB Day this year. COVID-19, or the ‘coronavirus’, is a new virus that causes a cough and fever, which can also cause respiratory failure. The viral load of this respiratory infection on the lungs makes it particularly severe for individuals with TB. This is why Blossom Trust and the Rainbow TB Forum made COVID-19 a primary focus, publishing an COVID-19 infographic campaign on our social media, to ensure that the community is well informed and well equipped to deal with the outbreak. This is especially relevant today, due to the increased risk of severe infection for individuals with TB. We must all take measures to protect ourselves and the people around us: everybody MUST wash their hands regularly, with soap, for 20 seconds, and NOT shake hands or touch other people. Everybody must also stay away from groups and crowds, minimise use of public transport, and stay at least 6 feet (2 metres) away from other people, in what is known as “social distancing”. We are doing our best to follow the government advice, and we urge everybody to do the same.
It is essential that everybody takes these guidelines seriously to keep our communities safe. In this way we will be able to protect the most vulnerable individuals, including those suffering with active or latent TB, and keep our communities safe.