India: MSF launches TB programme

From the 1998-1999 MSF International Activity Report

Although not working in India at the time, MSF was granted the prestigious 1996 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for its overall humanitarian action worldwide. This opened the doors for MSF to launch a programme in India.In 1998 an exploratory mission was carried out to assess the health situation in India and identify the more acute health needs.

The conclusion was that there was a severe problem of tuberculosis (TB) in urban areas especially in Mumbai (formerly Bombay)which has a population of 14 million. In February 1999 an MSF team went to Mumbaito set up a programme to treat TB.

A team is currently working within the framework of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) together with the local Ministry of Health and a local aid agency. The programme aims to support and help both public and private health sectors - with the collaboration of the local communities - in the implementation of the Directly Observed Treatment Short course (DOTS) strategy.

The DOTS strategy is implemented within the framework of the RNTCP and has been adopted by the Government of India following the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO). MSF has committed itself, for an initial period of three years, to running an innovative pilot programme which is designed to be duplicated in other parts of the country at a later stage. By June 1999, MSF had also opened an office in New Delhi. The office is to be used for the purpose of representation and maintaining close contacts with government authorities.