Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often stressed the important role of jan bhagidari (people’s participation) in solving critical issues and building a prosperous nation. His words – “when compatriots of 130 billion step forward with a fixed goal and commitment to resolve, India steps forward 130 steps forward” – carry special resonance. The Swachh Bharat mission, the Covid-19 vaccination campaign and the recently concluded Har Ghar Tiranga campaign are examples of this synchronization between government and citizens. When the two come together for a common mission, the programs have a high chance of success. Can we then capitalize on jan bhagidari to free India from TB by 2025?
Prime Minister Modi has set an ambitious goal of making India TB-free by 2025, five years ahead of the global goal to eliminate the disease. Inspired by PM Modi’s commitment to the cause, we launched Ni-kshay Poshan Yojana under the National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP) to meet the nutritional needs of TB patients. Under this scheme, more than 62 lakh TB patients have received financial support amounting to Rs 1,651 crore since 2018. This includes a transfer of Rs 500 directly to the patient’s bank account.
The government has worked tirelessly to provide free diagnosis, free medicine and other types of support to those affected by the disease. However, I believe collective action will give TB-mukt Bharat unprecedented energy.
Any person or organization can register as a Ni-kshay Mitra on the Ni-kshay 2.0 portal to support those affected by the disease. The initiative aims to provide essential nutritional and social support to people with TB and to eradicate stigma and discrimination against them. Three types of support are essential. First, a kit containing appropriate foods and supplements to meet their nutritional needs. Second, support for additional laboratory diagnostic requirements. Third, to equip patients with vocational skills to help them join the labor market and lead prosperous and productive lives.
Under this initiative, individuals, organizations, businesses, co-operative organizations, elected officials and NGOs can support by adopting people with TB. You too can log in to the Ni-Kshay 2.0 portal (https://communitysupport.nikshay.in/) and commit to providing your support for between one and three years, in any block or district in the country.
This innovative adoption campaign was conceptualized by Anandiben Patel, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. His commitment to the cause and his unshakable faith in service to the public gave a boost to our efforts.
When Lord Ram was building a bridge to Lanka, a squirrel stepped forward to help. Lord Ram appreciated even the smallest contribution. Squirrel can be an inspiration for all of us – we can contribute Pradhan Mantri TB-Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan. Encouraged by PM Modi’s mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas Aur Sabka Prayas, all of us can come together and join the Jan Andolan to make India TB-free by 2025.
The author is Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India