Dec 05 2019

SAARC Regional Workshop for “Implementation on TB - Tobacco collaborative activities and development of Guidelines on TB – Tobacco”

A 2 Day SAARC Regional Workshop for “Implementation on TB - Tobacco collaborative activities and development of Guidelines on TB – Tobacco” was at IIHMR University on 4 & 5 December 2019. Almost 25 participants from 8 SAARC Countries – Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka  actively participated  to set guidelines on TB-Tobacco. The workshop was Jointly organized by SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre, (STAC) Nepal, Central TB Division, India, and IIHMR University, Jaipur. Director, SAARC TB & HIV/AIDS Centre, Kathmandu, Nepal, Dr Ramesh K. Kharel and Joint Director – TB, Central TB Division, MoHFW, GoI, Dr Sanjay K. Mattoo were the keynote speakers for the program.

The objective of the program was to increase awareness and sharing of best practices regarding the important of integrating tobacco cessation into TB programs; enhancing leadership skills to affect policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation as well strategic communication and establishing partnership and knowledge sharing between tobacco control and TB experts. The workshop had various sessions including Understanding Tuberculosis and Tobacco Control in SAARC; Developing a strategic leadership mindset; and Monitoring Tobacco free health care.

On the occasion, Dr Pankaj Gupta, President IIHMR University said “We are committed to handling the issue of tobacco, in this regard, our campus has recently pledged to being smoking free. While we are working on TB, we should be aware about what’s working and what’s not working and use this data for future reference and discussion. We will do well when we create ‘next practices’, so let’s work together and focus to create these next practices.

On his theme address, Dr S D Gupta, Chairman, IIHMR University said “Approximately 10 million new cases of TB are recorded every year and almost 2 million die of TB every year. The ratio between the new cases and death due to TB is 1/5. We are facing two epidemics; one is TB and the other of smoking. They are both interrelated and a cause of concern. Smoking increases the risk of TB by 20%. If we reduce smoking, the deaths due to this associated risk can be significantly reduced.  Byintegratin tobacco cessation in TB control program we can reduce TB deaths by at least 20%. India’s commitment to lower TB deaths by 2025 is and advancement of 5 years with respect to the SDG which are to be achieved by 2030. This huge commitment needs all of us to come together.

On his Keynote address, Director, SAARC TB & HIV/AIDS Centre, Kathmandu, Nepal, Dr Ramesh K. Kharel,  said that Tuberculosis is a central issue globally. It is preventable and curable, but we have been fighting for more than five decades and there are many gaps. Today, we have infections related to TB, MDR, XDR and we don’t know what’s next. TB is related with poverty. A common guideline for TB and Tobacco is very important and we have assembled here to address this issue.

Joint Director – TB, Central TB Division, MoHFW, GoI, Dr Sanjay K. Mattoo, said that AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are some of the gravest communicable diseases in the public health sector. Of the three, tuberculosis presents the biggest challenge in terms of morbidity and mortality. It’s an ancient disease and one we’ve not been able to eradicate. Almost 25% of new tuberculosis cases are in India and almost 35-40% cases are from SAARC countries.


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