India’s National Strategic Plan (NSP) for 2017-25 calls for a person-centred approach to TB as a key strategy to reach the unreached. The NSP also recognises and promotes ‘the power of TB survivors and affected populations to act as change agents for advocating and facilitating TB resilient communities’. This is also echoed in the 2019 Joint Monitoring Mission report which recommends moving ‘from passive community engagement to full community participation and ownership, with reliance on TB Champions and TB survivors working alongside programme staff in advocacy, planning, implementation and monitoring of the local, state and national TB response’.
REACH first demonstrated the capacity-building and engagement of TB survivors as Champions through the TB Call to Action project supported by USAID (2016-2020). This resulted in India’s first cadre of TB Champions and the formation of the first-ever TB survivor-led networks.
Through the Unite to ACT project, REACH will expand and scale up these activities across India, as a sub-recipient to The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and with support from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The project’s activities were designed and will be implemented with the guidance of the Central Tuberculosis Division (CTD), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India. The goal of the Unite to ACT project is to accelerate efforts towards TB elimination in India by unifying and scaling up community action for TB through a cohesive community-led response.
Dr Sudarsan Mandal, Former Deputy Director General, CTD