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TB awareness campaign glitters with stars

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A cross-section of film and television personalities on Thursday lent their star power to a campaign to raise public awareness about TB to mark the observance of World TB Day.

The campaign against TB, which already has actor Suriya as its poster boy, now has a helping hand from younger stars Narain and Raghav apart from playback singers Shriram and Srilekha Pathasarathy and television star Vijay Adhiraj.

“If you believe that our presence will help reach the message to the masses we would be more than ready to help out,” said Vijay.

Narain only regretted not having signed up for the social cause earlier while Raghav and Shriram pointed to the importance of adherence to the six-month treatment schedule. Srilekha sang a few lines from one of her hits.

Organised jointly by the Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health (REACH) and the State TB Office of the Directorate of Medical Services, the campaign will highlight the fact that TB is curable through compliance with the regimen of DOTS.

The campaign will also clear misconceptions about TB being a hereditary disease, cite the common modes of transmission of the air-borne disease and advocate a sputum test if a cough persists beyond two weeks.

V. K. Subburaj, Principal Secretary, Health, launched a signature campign that sought participants to spread the message to 24 others. The number 24 correlates with the date in 1882 when Robert Koch isolated the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the pathogen that causes TB.

He also flagged off a vehicle to take the message on TB treatment and prevention to the rural areas. Pointing out that India contributed to 20 per cent of the global TB disease burden, Mr. Subburaj highlighted the importance of adhering to the DOTS schedule. Any interruption in the six-month schedule would lead to Multi-Drug Resistance in patients. Treating MDR cases is more expensive and the duration of treatment is over a two year period, he said. The official also urged the people to adopt the practice of having health check-ups at least twice a year.

Girija Vaidyanathan, Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission, released IEC materials sponsored by the Central Bank of India. R. T. Porkai Pandian, Director of Public Health, said non-compliance with DOTS was complicating the efforts to control TB. Nalini Krishnan, Director-REACH, noted the important contribution of film and television personalities in the fight against TB.

The “Speak Up to Stop TB” media campaign had been rolled out the other day from Delhi as part of meeting the United Nations objective of reducing the global burden of TB by 50 per cent by 2015, she said. C. Udayshankar, State TB Officer and S. Kannan, General Manager, Central Bank of India also participated.

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