Tuesday, May 30, 2023

On World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, MASH Project Foundation brought together senior experts from the government, World Health Organization, medical organizations and civil society to discuss the link between TB and tobacco control.

The virtual roundtable, moderated by RJ and actor Salil Acharya, was joined by Dr. L. Swasticharan, Additional Deputy Director General of Health Services & Director (Emergency Medical Relief) at Directorate General of Health Services of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as the keynote speaker; and panellists included Dr. Raj Kumar, Director, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, Dr. Jagdish Kaur, Regional Adviser (TFI) at World Health Organization, Dr. Vishal Rao, Director – Head Neck Surgical Oncology & Robotic Surgery HealthCare Global Cancer Centre, and Dr. Upendra Bhojani, Director of the Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru.

The roundtable, titled “Breathe Easy – India Takes On Tobacco and TB”, was an effort to serve as a reminder that for India to achieve the urgent goal of ending TB, it is vital that the people of the nation join hands together to simultaneously address tobacco usage in the country. The event was broadcasted live for the audience on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter handles of #IndiaVsTobacco, a campaign that engages young people, parents, and institutions to work towards a tobacco-free India. It has been gaining momentum as different initiatives use the hashtag to demonstrate their support for a tobacco-free India.

According to WHO, India has the highest burden of TB globally, with an estimated 2.8 million cases registered annually. India is also the second-largest consumer of tobacco globally. TB and tobacco use are two significant public health challenges that independently cause considerable health and economic burden in the country. The costs of tuberculosis attributed to tobacco alone were three times higher than the total expenditure for TB control. While introducing the roundtable discussion, RJ and actor, Salil Acharya said, “I used to smoke 40-50 cigarettes a day for 13 years, but going cold turkey overnight 10 years ago changed my life.

I’ve never looked back since then and live every day to fight another battle. Reflecting on my own personal experience, I encourage the youth to let go of this habit instead of considering it as a style statement, contrary to what these industry marketing tactics and OTT platforms may promote to you. We all must also realize that it is not just the smokers who suffer but also those around us who become victims of second-hand smoke. Everyone must take good care of their body and fitnes