Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India would totally eliminate tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, a good 5 years ahead of the global deadline set for 2030 and has already started working towards achieving this goal.

“Given the way TB affects people's lives, health of the society and impacts the country's economy and future, it is very essential to get rid of TB within the stipulated time,” Modi said while inaugurating the Delhi End TB Summit which is being organised by the Ministry of health and family welfare jointly with WHO’s South East Asia Region Office and international coalition Stop TB Partnership.

India is also implementing the National Strategic Plan for TB elimination that is backed by a funding of over ₹12,000 crore for the next three years to ensure every TB patient in the country has access to quality diagnosis, treatment, and support, he said.

TB is the leading infectious killer in India. There were an estimated 28 lakh new cases of TB in 2016, with over 4 lakh people succumbing to the disease, including those with TB and HIV. The new strategic plan adopts a multi-pronged approach which aims to detect all TB patients with an emphasis on reaching TB patients seeking care from private providers and undiagnosed TB in high-risk populations, treat all patients irrespective of where they seek care adopting a patient centric approach, prevent emergence of TB in susceptible population groups and build empowered institutions and human resources to streamline implementation.

Most of victims of TB in India are the poor and hence every step taken to wipe out TB should be linked directly to their lives, the Prime Minister said adding that the current Union Budget has proposed to set aside US$100 million to provide nutritional support to TB patients.

As State governments in the country have an equally important role to play in eradicating TB from the country, Modi said, he has written personally to all chief ministers to joint this campaign.

He hoped that the renewed focus of his government on universal immunisation, clean India campaign and providing LPG connections to poor households will have a positive impact on the country’s fight against TB.

He also urged the ministry of health to explore the potential of Ayurveda in treating TB and share the results with other countries. He also promised all help – including first line drugs and technical support to all countries that are trying to eliminate TB.

Reiterating the government’s commitment, Union minister for health and family welfare J P Nadda said the National Strategic Plan to end TB by 2025 rolled out by the government has already been appreciated by the global community as a model plan for combating TB. “We are starting new scheme for nutritional support, expanding public-private partnership and aligning our strategies to follow the similar success we got in HIV /AIDS,” he said.

Speaking at the function, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said India’s plans to achieve the targets 5 years before the global target was bold, courageous and ambitious. He also thanked the Prime Minister for his personal and political commitment saying that such commitment was needed to win the war against TB.

Meanwhile, Jamhoih Tonsing, South Asia Regional Director of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease said India has the highest number of TB cases in the world which makes it the frontline of the fight to eliminate the disease.. “Unless the disease is eliminated in India, global efforts to end the disease by 2030 will stall,” Tonsing said.