The Deputy Director General – TB, Central Division, Dr. Rajendra P. Joshi recently embarked on a visit to key health facilities in Meghalaya, including Mawkdok, Upper Cherra, CHC Sohra and Pynursla. The purpose of this visit was to closely monitor and supervise the Tuberculosis (TB) related services being carried out in the field, with a focus on capturing the good practices implemented by the National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP) in Meghalaya, as part of the collective effort to achieve a TB-free state.
Dr. Rajendra was accompanied by the District TB Officer, East Khasi Hills District, Dr. B. Shanpru, D. Dharma Rao, National Consultant – PMTBMBA, Central TB Division (CTD), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Development partner, The Union ACSM, Jhpiego.
During the visit, the Deputy Director General was warmly welcomed at the Community Health Center (CHC) in Sohra, where a cultural folk song was performed by the local band, ‘Ki Sur Shynna’, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the region.
One of the key highlights of the visit was the Deputy Director General’s interaction with individuals affected by TB. He not only took the time to engage with them but also personally handed over Nutritional food baskets at the Sohra CHC. This gesture served as a symbol of empathy and support to those facing the challenges of TB.
Dr Joshi commended the dedication and hard work of the NTEP staff in Meghalaya. He emphasized the significance of their tireless efforts in the battle against TB and acknowledged the need for continued collaboration between healthcare professionals, government agencies, and the local community to achieve a TB-free state.
Dr. Joshi was also delighted to engage with the Traditional Healers and Village Health Council members at Sohra and Pynursla CHCs. He appreciated their work as it bridges the gap between the Community and health centre. This interaction allowed for invaluable insights and a deeper understanding of the local healthcare practices and the dedicated individuals who contribute to community well-being.
“Tuberculosis is one disease that if detected earlier can be cured and even eliminated. Compared to 2015, an early detection of tuberculosis has helped reduce the number of patients to 80 per cent. However, the main challenges associated with the treatment of TB is that people with symptoms such as weakness, weight loss, cough and cold do not consult the doctor. As a result of this, the infectious disease, Tuberculosis continues to spread among those the patient is in close contact with. It is therefore very important that the message goes out to the community, to get themselves tested once they notice the symptoms, they are made aware of the healthcare facilities that are available to them which will make a huge difference in the treatment of TB. The stigma associated with the disease should be debunked and efforts should be made to raise awareness and disseminate accurate information through all available means,” he said.
Dr Rajendra Joshi also outlined the importance of Ni-kshay Mitra, a nutrition support programme, launched in 2022 that not only supports the nutritional needs of the patient but also fosters a sense of community, where patients are encouraged to engage. They are treated as valued members of a support network and engage in meaningful conversations to provide emotional support alongside nutritional needs. This holistic approach ensures that the patients receive both physical and emotional support, promoting their well-being.
This visit underscores the commitment of the NTEP and the Central Division to provide comprehensive TB services and to ensure that no one is left behind in the fight against TB. It also highlights the importance of recognizing and promoting the cultural aspects of health awareness, creating a holistic approach to public health in the region.