“India continues to have one-fifth of the world’s tuberculosis burden, with the country still registering a high death rate for a diseases that is completely curable by early diagnosis and adhering to strict treatment regime,” said Director-General Health Services in Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Jagdish Prasad on Friday.
Dr. Prasad was speaking at the REACH Lilly MDR-TB Partnership Media Awards organised in the Capital. This year the four journalists recognised for excellence in reporting on tuberculosis are — Prayaag Akbar ( Mumbai-based journalist with the Sunday Guardian) and Viveka Roychowdhury (Editor, Express Pharma) under the English category, Yasir Fayas ( Malayalam, Mathrubhumi Aarogyamasika, Kerala) and Anupama Kumari ( Hindi, Tehelka ) in the local language category.
Instituted in 2010, the media awards highlight the vital role played by the media in informing the public and decision-makers about TB prevention, control and care.
Highlighting the need for media to play a more vital role in combating TB, Dr. Prasad said: “Media can and should create awareness about the disease and how not following the treatment plan as per the doctors instruction is causing drug resistance among TB patients. The government is still fighting indiscriminate use and abuse of tuberculosis drugs and is working at ensuring that all patients have easy access to free tuberculosis drugs.”
Speaking about how informed, accurate and responsible journalism can have a significant impact on public understanding of tuberculosis, Deputy-Director General (Central TB Division) in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Ashok Kumar said: “India continues to have a high burden of tuberculosis patients and though we have noticed a slight fall in the number of cases it remains a crucial public health concern. In addition there is growing disposition to multidrug resistance and increasing public health costs. These aspects combined with inaccurate and lack of awareness about TB and its consequences continues to make this completely curable disease a major problem.”
According to the organisers, this year over 45 entries were received from across India. Also present on the occasion were Reach (a Chennai-based non-profit organisation dedicated to the fight against TB) director Nalini Krishnan and Lilly India managing director Melt Van Der Spuy.