If the world is to triumph in the war against tuberculosis, it must first win the battle in India, which has the maximum number of people living with, and dying from, the disease, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today.
Tedros was speaking at the 'End TB Summit', inaugurated today by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who launched a campaign to eradicate the disease by 2025, five years ahead of a globally-set deadline.
The World Health Organization chief asserted that the global body would stand by India and all other countries to help eradicate the disease.
"WHO will stand by India, and by every country that decides TB has no place in its future," he said.
Tedros said WHO and the Stop TB Partnership called upon leaders and partners from all sectors to make bold and specific commitments as India was making today.
"There is nowhere more significant to hold this meeting than here in India, the country with the most people living with, and dying from, TB," he said.
TB is the leading infectious killer in India, where there were an estimated 28 lakh new cases in 2016, with over 4 lakh people succumbing to the disease, including those who had TB as well as HIV.
"If the world is to win the war against TB, we must win the battle here in India," the WHO director-general said.
Increasingly, the world was seeing an unprecedented political commitment to end TB, which, he said, was the key to its successful eradication.
He pointed out that in Moscow in November, President Vladimir Putin had committed to engaging globally to end TB, and now India had resolved to eradicate it.
"And we will see it again in September, when Heads of State will gather at the UN High-Level Meeting on TB in New York," he said.
WHO and the Stop TB Partnership, a platform supported by the UN body, were calling for leaders and partners from all sectors to make bold and specific commitments "as India is making today", he said.
"Together, we aim to reach 40 million people with quality TB treatment by 2023.
Our vision is that no one with TB will miss out on the care they need," he added.
The Delhi 'End TB summit' is being hosted by the Indian Health Ministry, WHO and the Stop TB Partnership.
Health ministers from a number of countries are attending the event.