The fight against tuberculosis — one of the biggest killers in the country — has been given the global seal of recognition. The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) found itself on the world health map on Wednesday with programme manager Dr LS Chauhan becoming the first winner of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s international Stop TB Partnership Kochon Prize for his contribution to improved TB control in India.
The global Stop TB Partnership and the Kochon Foundation awarded Dr Chauhan at the 37th Union World Conference on Lung Health, Palais des Congrès in Paris on Wednesday. Co-winner Winstone Zulu is a TB/HIV activist from Zambia.
The WHO said the duo was chosen for they "helped transform tuberculosis (TB) control in their home countries." Statistics cite that over six million people have been treated and over one million saved under the government's tuberculosis control programme. Dr Chauhan, a deputy director-general (tuberculosis), with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has overseen the "rapid expansion of RNTCP to cover the country's entire population of 1.1 billion".
Under the scheme, known as the directly-observed treatment short-course or DOTS, medicines are distributed free of cost under the direct supervision of health workers.
The two-three month course ensures that patients adhere to prescriptions and get completely cured. Any deviation or non-adherence to the treatment course leads to multi-drug-resistant (MDR) TB, which is expensive to treat and sometimes incurable.