Greater involvement of private practitioners in the Revised National Tuberculosis Control (RNTCP) is the need of the hour, L.S. Chauhan, deputy director general– TB, has stressed.

While 2500 NGOs and 20,000 private practitioners were involved in the DOTS programme of the government, taking the number of doctors alone, it was merely a drop in the ocean, he added. There is a need to involve at least three or four lakh doctors in the recognised sector alone, in order to meet the goals of the project. He also called for awareness programmes in the community on the disease and various services offered by the government. Those running the programme also need to inform the media of these key facts, Dr. Chauhan added.

Commenting on the success of the DOTS programme, he said that over 11 million patients had been put on treatment since DOTS was introduced; and over 2.2 million additional lives saved. Speaking at a function to celebrate 10 years of REACH, a Chennai-based NGO working to raise awareness on issues which are critical to community health, including TB, Dr. Chauhan said working with the organisation has led to success stories that have been and will be replicated in other states too. Girija Vaidyanathan, mission director, National Rural Health Mission, also stressed on the need to involve more private practitioners in controlling the spread of the TB infection and treatment. She congratulated REACH for its work over the years.

“The real achievement is not only to complete 10 years, but still remain with the head over water, while working with three major stakeholders – the government, private sector and patients,” she said.

Nalini Krishnan, director-projects, REACH, outlined the activities of the organisation over the last decade. She also introduced the ‘Speak Up to Stop TB campaign’ as a joint partnership between REACH and Lilly MDR Partnership Initiative to engage media meaningfully for TB advocacy.

Later, Dr. Chauhan presented awards to three journalists from the print media for their articles on MDR-TB. Five students of journalism were recognised for their work on tuberculosis.