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24 March - World TB Day

The year 2010 marks the halfway point for the Global Plan to Stop TB (2006-2015). It is clearer than ever that we must scale up efforts and continue to seek new and innovative ways to stop TB if we are to achieve our targets. We have made considerable progress. But the evidence points to an urgent need to do more, do it better and do it faster.

The theme of Innovation speaks to the need for a new way forward. The slogan On the move against tuberculosis reflects this theme through a simple, flexible and easily translatable phrase. This year's campaign will focus on individuals around the world who have found new ways to stop TB and can serve as an inspiration to others. The idea is to recognize people who have introduced a variety of innovations in a variety of settings. Read more about what the STOP TB Partnership is doing by clicking here.

The SEARPharm Forum and the Indian Pharmaceutical Federation, a FIP Member, have released a press release stating that DOTS treatment ((Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course, which has been identified by the World Bank as one of the most cost-effective health strategies available) is being scaled up in Indian Pharmacies:DOTS Treatment at Retail Chemists to Be Scaled Up

Mumbai, March 2010 - Almost 150 retail chemist outlets will be providing DOTS counseling and treatment services from March 24 - World TB day for the residents of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan areas. This scale up is a 15 fold increase from the current 10 odd DOTS chemist retailers that exist between Kalyan and Mumbai.

The two year project, with support from Lilly MDR TB partnership, will be a joint public-private collaboration between the Government TB authorities and chemists association on one side and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), SEARPharm Forum, Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA) on the other.

Informs Dr Arun Bamane, Deputy Executive Health Officer, Mumbai Municipal Corporation (TB), "The aim is to make DOTS programme more accessible and patient friendly and remove the stigma associated with visiting TB clinics. This initiative will greatly help to strengthen the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) and widen the DOTS network, thus facilitating access to the medicines and further reduce incidences of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB cases."

Under the project, pharmacists of these areas will be trained by city TB officials to identify chest symptomatic (lung TB), make case referral for diagnosis to nearby TB diagnostic clinic and also provide DOTS treatment thus improving case detection & cure rate.

Mr Prafull D. Sheth, Vice President, FIP, (International Pharmaceutical Federation) said, "The FIP-SEARPharm Forum-IPA collaboration supported by Lilly MDR TB partnership by involving pharmacists is yet another milestone in Public Private Partnership."

The Socio- economic burden of TB in India is very high and indirect cost to the society is estimated to be $3 billion. It is estimated that 60% to 70% of TB patients go to private physicians and purchase their medicines from retail pharmacies.

The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership is a public private initiative that has been working in close collaboration with the GOI's RNTCP since 2004. Lilly has so far announced a total of 135 million US Dollars globally towards this Partnership that includes technology transfer, training of Health Care Providers, R&D and community support programs for patient awareness and prevention.

Anurag Khera, Director Corporate Affairs Eli Lilly India said the role of pharmacists is particularly significant in order to motivate TB patients to complete their treatment timely. "We believe pharmacists are the best change-agents who can shape the community they live in especially when they are empowered to contribute meaningfully."

There are approximately 1.9 to 2.0 million new TB cases every year in India with over 1,10,000 cases of drug resistance - more than in any other country, according to the WHO.