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Vital Strategies releases public education resources to accelerate GoI END TB strategy

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Starting today, Vital Strategies is airing the PSA, ‘Cough’ on national digital platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Hotstar and Voot for four weeks in 17 languages across India

On World TB Day, Vital Strategies released two new communication resources to support the Government of India’s effort to END TB once and for all.

India accounts for the highest number of TB cases in the world, as per affecting over 2.6 million Indians every year. Tobacco further exacerbates the TB epidemic in India—about 14 per cent of TB patients in India use tobacco, as per the India TB report. To help tackle this leading killer, and simultaneously address TB and tobacco, strong and consistent communications and public messaging will be critical.

As per a press note, this launch includes two new public education resources, “Responses to Public Service Announcements about Tuberculosis” which provides insights into four tested campaign messages that when integrated into TB programming, will encourage behaviour change including increasing knowledge of symptoms, reducing stigma and discrimination, enhancing health service utilisation, and improving treatment adherence. One concept in particular, ‘Cough’ is the first-ever campaign highlighting the link between TB and tobacco use and was rated as one of the highest in terms of potential effectiveness for TB prevention and treatment.

“End Tobacco to Eliminate TB: Communication Toolkit”, launched in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP) of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), is an extensive collection of resources, creatives, and guidelines to drive social sharing campaigns on TB-tobacco. It is a handy, ready to use tool to help government institutions, program managers, health care providers, communities, civil society organisations, and health resource agencies to effectively reach key audiences. Further, the toolkit provides pre-tested public service announcement, ‘Cough’ in 17 national and regional languages.

Shri Vikas Sheel, Joint Secretary (NTEP & Policy), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, said, “The ‘Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP)’ has been renamed the ‘National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP)’ on January 1st, 2020 with a commitment as emphasised by Hon PM Shri Narendra Modi to ‘End TB by 2025’, five years ahead of the global target. Mass media campaigns are an effective tool for achieving this target, and campaigns can ensure that relevant messaging is in the public domain to help in amplifying cross-linkages between NTEP and other programs to influence TB control. I am sure that this white paper will serve as evidence to create compelling behavior change communication campaigns for ending TB emergency. We also congratulate Vital Strategies and The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease to bring out this ready-to-use communication toolkit to help build knowledge about the increased risk of TB infection due to tobacco use”.

Dr. Nandita Murukutla, Vice President, Vital Strategies, said, “We’re proud to support efforts to END TB, a leading killer in India. Our new research assessing the impact of media messages on knowledge of TB is first-of-its kind. It will lead to more efficient and effective campaigns that encourage people to seek treatment. The complementary resources will further the Government of India’s efforts and policies to reduce TB. We are pleased to partner with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, the Union and Tata Memorial Hospital Mumbai, and commend their efforts to encourage public education campaigns as a critical means to ending the tobacco and the TB epidemic.”

Starting today, Vital Strategies is airing the PSA, ‘Cough’ on national digital platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Hotstar and Voot for four weeks in 17 languages across India.

Prof. Pankaj Chaturvedi, Surgeon, Department of Head Neck Surgery, Tata Memorial Center, Mumbai, said “In India, tobacco kills more than 1 million people each year, accounting for 9.5 per cent of all deaths. Implementing mass media campaigns is an effective strategy to combat the menace of tobacco. I congratulate Vital Strategies for the successful launch of these communication materials as well as the launch of campaign “Cough” on digital media. We are happy to collaborate with Vital Strategies by providing a testimonial to amplify the warning against the deadly harms of tobacco use in any form.”

Dr. Rana J Singh, Deputy Regional Director, The Union South-East Asia, said “Many studies show that tobacco consumption is an important risk factor for TB infection and TB disease. There is an urgent need to integrate tobacco control strategies in TB control programs at policy, implementation and reporting levels. We hope that this ready to use communication toolkit will be a very useful resource to run successful campaigns for jointly addressing the dual epidemic of tobacco use and Tuberculosis.

Aimed to facilitate better understanding of TB among relevant stakeholders, the resources also aim to support central and state governments in ensuring optimum fund allocation and utilisation for media campaigns. Government and public health leaders can use these resources to generate greater awareness and develop strategic health communications not only for TB programs but also for TB and tobacco control integration initiative.

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