Mr. Amitabh Bachchan
A message from Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, TB survivor and Ambassador, Call to Action for TB-Free India was one of the highlights of the inauguration of the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health that began.
Approximately 4000 delegates and participants from 130 countries attended the conference comprising a broad range of stakeholders committed to tuberculosis (TB) eliminationn: healthcare professionals, scientists, researchers, global advocates and community members involved in different aspects of lung health, specifically TB , and tobacco control. The theme for the conference is "Confronting Resistance: Fundamentals to Innovations".
According to the World Health Organization, India is home to 2.8 million people with TB. In his video message, Mr Bachchan reiterated his support for the Indian Government's efforts to make India TB-Free and encouraged delegates to find solutions (new diagnostics, new drugs, shorter regimens, effective vaccines) that could put an end to the disease.
Mr. Bachchan, spoke of how he was diagnosed with TB of the spine in the year 2000, at a time when he was hosting a popular Indian television show. He underwent rigorous treatment and was thankful for the exceptional support he received from his doctors and family that helped him recover and resume work. He was quick to point out that unfortunately, not all patients in India have access to the same quality of care that he received, and many with TB or multidrug resistant TB are not diagnosed early enough and/or drop out of treatment because of side effects or the long duration. He highlighted the fact that though TB disproportionately affects the poor , it is not only the poor who suffer from TB. as it is an airborne infectious disease. "Forgive my immodesty when I say this, but if it can happen to me, it can happen to you, to anyone," he said.
In the video, Mr. Bachchan stressed the importance of ending the stigma and discrimination associated with the TB. He added, "Each of us has a role to play. We need our political leaders to commit at the highest level, in each of our countries, to provide the much-needed services to the most marginalised and vulnerable populations. We need to pool our resources to find effective solutions. And yes, we need much more investment in research. We need new diagnostics that make it easy to detect TB and new drugs that can shorten the course of treatment. And most importantly, we need an effective vaccine."