GUWAHATI, Oct 23 - Tuberculosis (TB) survivors and champions are frontline soldiers in the fight against TB and can play an important role in supporting people with TB in Assam, said Anurag Goel, Commissioner and Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, at a review meeting held in the city on Saturday to mark the end of a six-month mentorship programme.
Goel was appreciative of the work done by the TB champions and praised their commitment in not just completing their own treatment, but now supporting that of others affected by TB in the community.
The meeting was organised by �Reach� (Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health), as part of the TB Call to Action Project, in collaboration with the State TB Cell and with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Also speaking at the valedictory session, Assam State TB Officer Dr NJ Das said TB champions are one of the most important elements in the fight against TB. They would hopefully continue to contribute their efforts to the community towards TB elimination, he said.
The meeting was attended by 32 TB champions from 22 districts of the State. In the six-month period, 17 TB champions from 14 districts (current batch of mentorship programme) provided psychosocial support to over 1,400 people with TB, and helped identify people with symptoms and connect them to TB care services.
�From a TB patient to a TB survivor, then a TB champion and now a trainer for other TB survivors, I feel extremely privileged to consider myself an empowered TB champion. The responsibility to carry forward the work towards elimination of TB in Assam is a big one and I hope more TB champions would come forward and join me in this mission,� said Minoti Puran, a TB champion from Jorhat district.
Golga Sawra, a TB champion who works with tea garden communities in remote parts of Udalguri district, said, �Through this mentorship programme, I was able to reach out to the tea garden communities, who were previously unaware of TB. To be able to support my community members who are affected by TB and give back to the community is extremely gratifying.�
The TB champions have also interacted with families of people with TB to enlist their support and to educate them on TB prevention. Together, they sensitised more than 14,000 people through one-to-one and group meetings, to make them aware of TB. As a part of the mentorship programme, they have conducted anti-stigma campaigns and involved elected representatives across the State. Some panchayats have also pledged to make their villages TB-free.
Assam�s TB champions have formed a State-level network called Jyoti End TB Assam (JETA), which was initiated in July 2018. Through this network, TB champions will work to reduce the burden of TB in the State. The nomination of the governing body of the network and the election of the office-bearers also took place during the meeting.