10 September, 2015

US Ambassador brings together corporate leaders for a TB-free India

Amitabh Bachchan and Ratan Tata join the effort

Mumbai: Engaging the corporate sector to further strengthen the Government of India's nationwide campaign to end Tuberculosis, the U.S. Ambassador to India Mr. Richard Verma today launched the 'Mumbai Dialogue: Towards a TB-Free India' along with legendary Bollywood actor Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman, Sir Ratan Tata Trusts. This dialogue is in support of the Government of India's Call to Action for a TB-Free India, launched on April 23, 2015.

Several corporate leaders joined the U.S. Ambassador, Mr. Bachchan and Mr. Tata on Thursday for a dialogue to engage the corporate sector in the effort to eradicate one of the most deadly diseases in India. According to WHO Global TB Report 2014, 240,000 Indians die of TB each year and 61,000 suffer from multidrug-resistant TB.

Focusing on the need for private sector involvement, Ambassador Verma said: "Over the last 18 years, the United States has invested close to $100 million to prevent and control TB, and has helped to treat over 15 million people. However, there is still much more that needs to be done to end TB in India and governments cannot do it alone. We need a multi-sectoral approach in which partners, public and private, collaborate to achieve this ambitious yet attainable goal."

Mr. Bachchan added, "As someone who has suffered from TB, I can tell you of the havoc that the disease can cause to a person's life. It can often take months to be diagnosed. Even when the diagnosis is accurate, getting the right treatment is not always easy. However, as a TB survivor, I can also tell you that this is a disease that can be fought against and won over. I believe we all have a role to play – as spokespersons, community leaders, philanthropists, and individuals – in making India TB-Free."

Speaking about his role as a champion for TB, Mr. Tata said, "Every Indian family, it seems, at some point has encountered tuberculosis, which is such a big impediment to our basic wellbeing and overall socio-economic development. This disease, which is treatable and curable, is a significant economic drain especially on our poor and results in discrimination at schools, workplaces and within societies. It is about time that corporates and communities collectively respond to end this epidemic in our country. The Tata Trusts wholeheartedly supports this national movement against TB and will do everything in its capacity to contribute towards making it a success."

TB is a treatable and curable disease that largely strikes adults in their prime working years, making it difficult for them to support themselves and their families. For the business sector, TB causes absenteeism, lowering productivity and raising direct and indirect cost such as medical, recruitment and training. Globally, experts project that TB causes a decline in worker productivity in the amount of $12 billion every year. For India, there is a loss of 100 million work days per year.

The launch was hosted by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).

For further information, please contact:
Anshuman Gunjan


Arpita Ashara

About The Call to Action for a TB-Free India

The Call to Action for a TB-Free India Campaign is an initiative led by the Government of India to engage corporate, civil society and community leaders in the campaign to end TB in India. The Call to Action will culminate in a National Summit in March 2016.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies. USAID is an independent government agency that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. Leveraging India's growing financial and human resources, USAID is harnessing the strengths and capabilities of both countries to tackle development challenges not only in India, but worldwide. This approach to development is built on leveraging the expertise, innovations, and resources of the United States and India to tackle the most pressing challenges of our day, from infectious diseases to food security and climate change. USAID partners with India to address these and other challenges through the U.S. Government's Feed the Future, Global Health, and Global Climate Change initiatives. In all sectors of its activities, USAID builds private sector partnerships to foster in-country sustainability and ownership, with a focus on issues such as health, urban water and sanitation, food security, climate change, early grade reading, and women's empowerment as a cross-cutting issue.

About The Union
The International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) provides technical assistance, education and research for promoting lung health in low and middle-income countries. Established in 1920 as a federation of national lung associations, The Union is a non-profit scientific organization comprising more than 100 member countries, a Secretariat based in Paris and regional offices in India, China, Mexico, Uganda, Myanmar and Egypt. Current activities focus on tuberculosis, HIV, child lung health, asthma, tobacco prevention and health policy.