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India aims to eliminate TB by 2025

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Dr. Soumya Swaminanthan needs no introduction. The 58-year-old pediatrician and clinical scientist has been recently nominated as Deputy Director General of the World Health Organisation. Ms. Swaminanthan, the pioneer in Tuberculosis research, advocates the role of research to root out the disease as the country has the highest number of cases in the world.

India’s National Health Policy recognizes the key role that research plays in the development of a nation’s health. The India TB Research Consortium brings together diverse stakeholders to develop new tools – diagnostics, vaccines and drugs – to enable the country to take a leadership role in fast tracking translational TB research and find solutions for the world.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan (Secretary, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Director General, ICMR) recently at the second International Scientific Advisory Group (ISAG) meeting, states India has the highest number of TB cases in the world. It is widely recognised that the field needs new tools to make a greater impact on this disease, including more sensitive diagnosis, preventive vaccines and new drugs to treat MDR-TB.

The India Tuberculosis Research Consortium (ITRC), formed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Delhi convened its second International Scientific Advisory Group (ISAG) meeting.

The ISAG comprises global experts in the areas of TB research and has been formed to advise the ITRC on developing and translating, research & development leads across four key thematic areas – diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics and implementation research – taking into account the research leads in each area, available both nationally and internationally.

Dr. Barry R. Bloom (Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard University and Chair, ISAG) addressing the meeting states, “TB is now the largest single cause of death in the world from an infectious disease.

Hence, the Government of India has made a significant commitment to support research to prevent and control the disease in India.” India’s National Strategic Plan 2017 for TB elimination aims to achieve and maintain a cure rate of >85% in new sputum positive patients for TB and reduce incidence of new cases, to reach elimination status by the year 2025.

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