India’s progress in tackling TB ‘extremely impressive’: Global Fund

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New Delhi, September 17 (IANS) India is far ahead of other countries in its progress to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) and this is extremely impressive, said a top executive at the Switzerland-based non-profit The Global Fund.

Talking to IANS, Lady Roslyn Morauta, Chair of the Board, The Global Fund, which partners with India for its national programmes in HIV, TB and malaria through grants to government and non-governmental organisations, said that India is also doing quite well to tackle HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria cases.

"India is far ahead of other countries in its progress to eliminate TB. In particular, the UN Sustainable Development Goal is to try to eliminate TB by 20-30 but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set 2025 -- five years earlier. By that time, hopefully TB will be eliminated in India and the country is on track to do that. It's extremely impressive,” Morauta said.

"HIV and malaria are generally under control. Some troublesome malaria in the border areas particularly, but compared with other countries, we don't have the scale of problem with malaria here.

"However, progress still needs to be made to eliminate these, particularly malaria and HIV. The targets for TB, it looks relatively on track. I mean, 2025 is far away, but from all that we're seeing at this point, there's been huge progress and you are on track to achieve that," she said, on her recent visit to India.

Morauta also lauded the efforts of the Indian pharma industry’s efforts during the Covid-19.

During the pandemic, India exported life-saving medicines and medical equipment to more than 150 countries, as well as more than 65 million doses of Covid vaccines to nearly 100 countries.

"The Indian pharma industry is really important to global pharma because of the huge volume of procurement that we make of Indian health products. So the success of pharma in India is vital. India can be described as being the pharmacy for the world," Morauta told IANS.

"The role of Indian pharma industry has been an important one and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, its role continued to evolve and we see it to be critical, particularly of helping us to drive equitable access to quality assured health countermeasures," added Hui Yang, Head of Supply Operations, The Global Fund.

She said India pharma industry is supplying roughly around 50 per cent of the health product that the non-profit procures, which includes antiretroviral treatments for HIV, the anti-malarial and the insecticide treatments, the bed net as well as the diagnostics solutions.

In its efforts to end AIDS, TB and malaria and strengthen health systems, the Global Fund procures health products from manufacturers in India valued at an estimated $600 million annually.

Yang said that in the coming days the Indian pharma industry will predominantly be able to drive the scaled and affordable access to lifesaving health products: medicines, diagnostics, and vaccines, because of the scale of the generic manufacturers in India.

She noted that the competitive manufacturing market in the company offers or improves the overall affordability of the health products. Yang also vouched for the quality of the products owing to stringent regulatory approvals.