Women’s participation critical for eliminating TB, says official

Event held to mark culmination of initiative to engage women as TB leaders

At an event to mark the culmination of Saadhikka Vaa Penne, a two-year-long effort to engage women as TB (Tuberculosis) leaders in four districts of Tamil Nadu, Manish Narnaware, Deputy Commissioner (Health), Greater Chennai Corporation, highlighted the need for women’s participation in the elimination of the disease.

“Women’s participation is critical if we are to eliminate TB. We must create more leadership opportunities like this,” he said, according to a press release.

He added that Saadhikka Vaa Penne was a model for not just increasing case-finding for TB, but also for improving women’s participation in health. This was an initiative of REACH (Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health), a non-profit organisation.

Ranjani Ramachandran, national professional officer, World Health Organisation, said she was happy to meet the empowered group of women from the community who were committed to helping people with TB and this work must be expanded and sustained across the State and country.

An impact report describing the results of the initiative was released. As per the report, over 200 women TB leaders were trained and engaged to work at over 180 health facilities in the State and around 1,200 women were equipped with information on health through audio-based modules. As many as 14 lakh persons were screened for symptoms and 84,000 persons were identified with symptoms. Around 77% were supported with tests for TB diagnosis and over 2,900 persons were diagnosed with TB.

A coffee table book Saadhikka Vaa Penne featuring women TB leaders was released. Ramya Ananthakrishnan, director of REACH said the women continued to work during the pandemic and supported people with TB and symptoms of TB at every step of their journey. The women TB leaders from Vellore, Villupuram, Salem and Tirunelveli were congratulated for their achievements, the release said. In a video message from Geneva, Lucica Ditiu, executive director of Stop TB Partnership said it was critical to ensure that there were enough people in the communities to provide care, advice, information and support to people affected by TB, COVID-19 and other airborne diseases.

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