India and Germany to collaborate for research in traditional medicine
May 25, 2017 (Pune)
Alternate medicine got some more boost, with the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approving Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) between Germany and India that would lead to significant collaboration in the field between the two countries.
Initiation of collaborative research, training and scientific capacity building in the field of alternative medicine under the JDI is also expected to contribute to the enhanced employment opportunities in the field of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).
There are no additional financial implications involved. The financial resources necessary to conduct research, training courses, conferences and meetings will be met from the existing allocated budget and existing plan schemes of Ministry of AYUSH.
While India is blessed with well-developed systems of traditional medicine which hold tremendous potential in the global health scenario, Germany also has considerable interest in traditional systems of medicine.
The Ministry of AYUSH as a part of its mandate to propagate Indian systems of medicine globally has taken effective steps by entering into MoUs with China, Malaysia, Trinidad & Tobago Hungary, Bangladesh, Nepal, Mauritius, Mongolia and Myanmar.
The Ministry has taken many initiatives for promotion of Ayurveda in Germany with the recommendation and cooperation of the Indian Embassy in Berlin.
One of the major initiatives is the collaborative research Project between the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) and Charite University, Berlin on Osteoarthritis of the knee.
The results of the trial are encouraging and the clinical trial demonstrates significant improvement in patients. The study has been completed successfully and is under publication.
A delegation led by AYUSH minister, Shripad Yesso Naik, had visited Germany in October last year to participate in the 2nd European World Ayurveda Congress (EWAC) and had interactions with the authorities in Germany.
During the visit a bilateral meeting was held between representatives of the two countries and it was agreed to begin the process of drafting and negotiating a JDl in the field of AYUSH and Natural medicine.
Government unveils 3-year roadmap for 'evergreen revolution'
May 23, 2017(N. Delhi)
Unveiling a three-year roadmap (2017-20) intended to take farm growth to new heights, Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Monday that foodgrain production in 2016-17 had broken all records.The new crop year too would see record yields, he added, due to the government's policy interventions, cooperation from states', and a normal monsoon for the second consecutive year.
Earlier this month, the ministry had estimated foodgrain production for the 2016-17 crop year (July-June) at 273.38 million tonnes (MT), which is over 8 MT higher than the previous record, 265.04 MT in 2013-14, and 8.67% higher than last year's foodgrain production.
The weatherman has added to the cheer. "The India Meteorological Department has predicted a normal monsoon for this year. If the monsoon is good, I am confident that the foodgrain production will be a new record (in 2017-18). It will boost growth rate in agriculture and allied sectors to more than 4.4% achieved in 2016-17," Singh said.
The ministry's roadmap for the next three years lists initiatives to the growth of farm sector and ensure that farmers' income doubles by 2022. The new initiatives include use of cutting-edge technology to increase farm productivity , promotion of climate-resilient indigenous breeds of cows and buffaloes, launch of a nationwide programme to harvest the advantages of space technology in agriculture and allied sectors, promotion of deep sea fishing, setting up of seed production and processing units at 'panchayat' level, increase of cropping intensity by 1 million hectares per year through the utilisation of rice fallow areas for pulses and oil-seeds, and consolidation of online trading and inter-market transactions, among others.
The minister said, "The ongoing programmes and new initiatives will definitely double farmers' income by 2022. It will take the country towards the 'evergreen' rev olution, as desired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi."
However, the minister evaded a direct response on the issue of commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) mustard, instead focusing on his ministry's performance in the past three years. He said his ministry's role was limited to implement the notified order of the government, whether it was related to GM or non-GM crops. "Whatever crops are notified once the environment ministry and scientists approve it, then our ministry's mandate is to increase production, productivity, bring down cost of production and ensure right price to farmers," he added.
India to make naval ships that can launch attack in enemy zone
May 21, 2017 (N. Delhi)
Defence ministry today cleared a mega naval project worth over Rs 20,000 crore for four Landing Platform Docks (LPD) also known as amphibious assault ships.
LPDs are warfare ship that helps armed forces to transport troops defence equipment, helicopters and amphibious vehicle into a war zone by sea.
Each of these four ships will weigh in the range of 30,000 and 40,000 tonnes. Once built and deployed, they will be the biggest battle ships to be built in India after the under-construction aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.
These warfare ships will enhance India's ability to conduct sea-borne offensives in enemy areas.
The ships have a huge lower decks that can be opened as a bridge to accommodate landing of tanks, defence cargo, as well as troops from sea to land. These ships do not require docking and can easily return as they can stay in sea uninterrupted for months depending upon their capacity.
LPDs can easily deliver the assigned consignment at the designated spots, which helps the Army to launch their offensive.
Currently, India has one LPD, bought in 2007 from the US. Indian had bought Ex-USS Trenton from US and has renamed as INS Jalashwa. The 16,900-tonne warship, Jalashwa, alone can transport around 5,000 soldiers besides defence equipment.
The long-pending project was given green signal by the Defence Acquisition Council, the top decision-making body of the Ministry, at its meeting yesterday, informed sources told PTI today.
Three private sector companies -- Reliance Defence and Engineering Limited (RDEL), Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and ABG Shipyard -- were in race initially for the mega project but ABG was disqualified on account of poor financial health.
The sources said RDEL and Larsen and Toubro will be asked next week to submit fresh commercial bids for the four LPDs.
L&T has tied up with Navantia of Spain whereas Reliance Defence has tied up with French firm DCNS, considered a global leader in construction of LPDs.
A top Navy official last month had said the contract for procurement of the four LPDs will be finalised by the end of this year.
Indian researchers use a novel route to kill TB bacteria
May 20, 2017 (Bangalore)
A team of Indian researchers has been able to achieve 100-fold reduction in TB bacterial load in lungs of mice after 60 days of treatment using bergenin ? a phytochemical isolated from tender leaves of sakhua or shala tree (Shorea robusta). Unlike the regularly used antibiotic drugs that target the TB bacteria, the bergenin compound modulates the immune system to kill the bacteria found inside the macrophages (a type of white blood cells). The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.
"Our studies show that the bergenin compound can be used to clear the bacteria, and when used in combination with other TB drugs can produce good results," says Gobardhan Das from the Special Centre for Molecular Medicine at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), a corresponding author of the paper. "Since the compound does not target the bacteria directly but modulates the immune system to kill the bacteria, it can be used in patients with drug-resistant TB too."
The researchers undertook several studies to understand the mode of action of the compound. The compound was unable to directly kill TB bacteria when treated with the compound. However, in the case of in vitro studies, the compound was able to kill the bacteria found inside infected cells. In mice infected with TB and treated with the compound, there was significant reduction in the bacterial load in the lungs. Unlike in the case of in vitro studies, in mice the compound was found to activate not only the macrophages but also other cell types (T cells) that led to effective killing of the bacteria. A significant reduction in the number of granulomatic lesions was seen in animals treated with the compound. Also, the bacterial load was 100-fold lower in mice treated with the compound compared with controls (animals that were not treated with bergenin). "These findings strongly suggest that the immune response enhanced by the compound is able to increase the capacity to clear the TB bacteria," Prof. Das says.
The levels of nitric oxide and a cytokine (TNF-alpha) were found to be enhanced. "We found the bergenin compound was selectively enhancing the frequency of interferon-gamma and interleukin-17-producing T cells in the TB infected animals," says Dhiraj K. Singh from ICGEB and a co-author of the paper. Interferon-gamma promotes bacteria-killing nitric oxide inside macrophages thus promoting the generation of protective immune responses against TB bacteria.
Previous studies have shown that T helper 1 (Th1) cells play a key role in protecting the host against TB bacteria, while Th2 cells oppose the protection offered by Th1 cells. "There is a dynamic balance between the Th1 and Th2," says Ved P. Dwivedi from ICGEB and the first author of the paper. "While TB bacteria prevents Th1 response and facilitates Th2 response, the bergenin compound promotes the expression of Th1 and Th17 responses."
Beats conventional drugs
The compound has been shown to heal wounds faster than conventional drugs. Dr. Debprasad Chattopadhyay, Director of the ICMR-National Institute of Traditional Medicine (ICMR-NITM) in Belgaum, Karanataka, and the other corresponding author of the paper, had isolated the compound. He had seen tribals using the leaves of shala tree for wound-healing.
"Our study, in a limited way, tries to correct the misinformation regarding Ayurveda. The stage is now set to test many more Ayurvedic and plant-derived natural products for their potency against pathogenic diseases," says Dr. Anand Ranganathan from the Special Centre for Molecular Medicine at JNU and one of the authors of the paper.
Prof. Das with the help of ICMR-NITM plans to carry out further tests in larger animals. If used in combination with other TB drugs the compound can shorten the duration of treatment and prevent the emergence of drug-resistance, the authors write.
TRANSMISSION TO BE OFF LIMITS FIRST - India's Power Play may Run out Chinese Players
May 22, 2017 (N. Delhi)
Security concerns, reciprocity-based policy may keep cos out of power grid
India will soon bar Chinese power companies from projects in the power sector on security concerns after a policy that will define new conditions for foreign firms eyeing the multibillion-dollar market in one of the fastest growing major economies in the world.
A formal office memorandum, expected in a month, will insulate the power transmission sector from companies based in countries that do not allow Indian entities in similar projects, a senior power ministry official told ET. The restriction will be gradually extended to the power generation and distribution sectors as well. Officials said the new reciprocity-based approach would impact Chinese companies that are looking to invest in the Indian electricity transmission sector. China does not approve of overseas investments in its electricity grid for security reasons but India allows 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in the power sector.
The move will help India in many ways, including protection from cyber attacks because the power sector is increasingly software driven with intelligent technology and control systems being used, said Indian Electri cal & Electronics Manufacturers' Association (IEEMA) director general Sunil Misra.Last week, US conglomerate GE's renewable energy CEO Jerome Pecresse told ET that re ciprocity was a fair idea.
Power, coal, renewable energy and mines minister Piyush Goyal had told ET in an interview on May 10 that India won't allow power companies to invest from countries where Indian firms are banned. Misra said the principle of reciprocity operates in all diplomatic relations, economic or otherwise.
IIT-H develops biodegradable nano-particles to treat cancer
May 20, 2017 (Hyderabad)
The Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad (IIT-H) has developed biodegradable non-particles that could be instrumental in treating cancer.
A team led by assistant professor Aravind Kumar Rengan has been working on finding alternative ways to chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer treatment to minimise side-effects caused by these therapies. He designed a novel nano system which kills the cancer cells by photothermal therapy.
The group is currently working on making more cost-effective nano particles for photothermal therapy, integrating these particles with cancer specific drugs to have an enhanced effect in killing cancer.
The team members involved in the research are Tejaswini Appidi, Syed Basseruddin, Deepak Bharadwaj, Anil Jogdand, Sushma, Anula ? all Ph.D. scholars; junior research fellow Rama Singh, and postdoctoral fellow Surya Prakash Singh.
Photo thermal therapy is a treatment procedure where light (photo) energy is supplied by means of an external laser to nano particles which absorbs this energy and converts it to heat (thermal) energy. This heat generated by irradiation of laser would increase temperature within the tumour and result in the death of cancer cells.
The important aspects of the research is that the treatment procedure has no side-effects, since the nano particles would be accumulated in the tumour region, and also the irradiation is specific to particles, which means the heat is generated only within the tumour and not elsewhere in the body.
Also, the laser used to provide light energy would not harm the healthy cells around the tumour region as these healthy cells would not absorb this light energy as they remain transparent to this irradiation.
The nano particulate system is very unique in its own way. The particles, after generating the heat required to kill the cancer cells, will degrade inside the body and further breakdown into much smaller particles which will be excreted from the body.
"This procedure had very good results in experiments carried out in mice, and is expected to show the same in humans too. This treatment is now under clinical trials and once the trials are completed, this would be available as an alternative treatment procedure to cancer," Dr. Rengan told The Hindu.
Dr. Rengan was recently awarded the prestigious INSA award in the young scientist category for his outstanding research in treatment of cancer by photothermal therapy using biodegradable particles.
By mimicking tiny features of insect wings and shark skin, a team from Bengaluru's Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has found a way to prevent bacterial infection on orthopaedic implants without using chemicals.
The team led by Kaushik Chatterjee from the Department of Materials Engineering at IISc relied purely on surface nanostructure to give the titanium metal used in implants the ability to kill bacteria.
Encouraging results were achieved in laboratory studies by making the shiny surface of implants rough through etching. The etched titanium surface is marked by randomly spaced nanopillars of 1 micrometre height and this makes it capable of killing infection-causing bacteria that adhere to the surface. The results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The rough surface of titanium was able to mechanically kill, within four hours of contact, nearly 95% of E. coli, 98% of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and 92% of Mycobacterium smegmatis. Though only 22% of Staphylococcus aureus attached to the surface were killed within four hours, the efficiency shot up to 76% at the end of 24 hours.
Research on mechanism
Hospital-based bacterial infections from orthopaedic implants can lead to medical complications.
"We don't know the precise mechanism by which the bacteria get killed. But we think the nanopillar architecture formed by dry etching mechanically ruptures the bacterial cells. Like in the case of the wing surface of cicadas, the bacterial cell membrane might be getting stretched by the nanopillars," says Jafar Hasan from the Department of Materials Engineering at IISc and the first author of the paper.
Bacteria have high motion capability and adhere to the surface to form a biofilm. Since titanium surface is marked by sharp tips, the cell membrane gets mechanically damaged when in contact.
While the disease-causing bacteria get killed, stem cells of the kind that form bone were unaffected by the etched surface.
Unlike bacteria that have rigid membranes, the stem cells are bigger, softer and better able to conform and attach themselves to the rough surface.
"We want to etch actual implants and carry out trials on rats and rabbits to test for bactericidal activity and to understand how the rough implant behaves inside the body and study how the bone attaches itself to the implant and grows," says Dr. Chatterjee, the corresponding author of the paper.
Pune scientists develop new bone graft substitutes
May 19, 2017 (Pune)
Two scientist-entrepreneurs working out of their lab at the Venture Centre of the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, have developed two new bone graft substitutes, which will better augment and regenerate bones lost due to any disease or injury. These will also come handy in the case of those with congenital defects.
Doctors that TOI contacted said they were already looking forward to the commercial availability of the products, especially for their near-to-natural composition, porous structure and resorbable feature. And what more! They will be available at a cost lesser than those of the currently-available imported varieties, they said.
It took scientists Nilay Lakhkar and Amol Chaudhari nearly a year to develop the products - PoroSyn and SynOst (bioactive synthetic bone graft granules and putty).
Backed by a financial grant from Biotechnology Industrial Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) for their innovative work in bio-tech products, the scientist-duo have already submitted a provisional patent application for PoroSyn. It has been developed with proprietary technology and is composed of calcium, sodium and phosphorous - three elements naturally found in bones.
They will ensure better uptake of the treatment by the body as well as heal faster.
While the concept has already got the thumbs up at the recent Pitch Fest in the Start Up Bio 2017 event at Bangalore, the process for conducting clinical trials
Tech to keep your vada pav hot and delicious on the street
May 24, 2017 (Bengaluru)
Two years ago, the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) organised a training for street food vendors in Mysuru on preparing quality food in hygienic conditions. Not just the vendors, the institute's scientists, too, picked up some useful lessons.
The trainers discovered that the carts the vendors used lacked the infrastructure to prepare hygienic food. The premier laboratory of the publicly funded Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has now come up with a solution -a solar-powered, modular vending cart that seeks to introduce sensors and cloud-based services to the street food business.
The sensors in the Smart Carts will monitor the quality of food by recording the pH levels, the temperatures of raw and cooked food kept in refrigerators and warmers, and the duration of storage.
The data will be transmitted to the CFTRI server, which, in turn, will splash the quality-check numbers on its mobile app that can be downloaded by vendors and consumers.
"Our Smart Cart will lift the quality of street food," said Ram Rajasekharan, director at CFTRI, adding that India has an estimated 10 million street food vendors. The carts, according to him, can also help Indian food entrepreneurs seeking to take their brands to overseas markets where Indian food is popular.
The base price of the carts, which can be customised, is Rs 60,000.
The technology blended into the cart would not only help vendors keep a check on the quality of food he is selling, but also help consumers choose the best available vendor by looking at the data on the app, said V Arun Kumar, the 32-year-old food safety scientist who designed the cart.
CFTRI will cobrand the carts with Bengaluru-based startup Hertz Mechatronics, which has fabricated the cart according to the lab's specifications. "It would take a couple of weeks to produce a cart," said Prabu Kumar M, project manager at the startup.
The cart, the CFTRI director said, includes a restaurant-grade kitchen made with stainless steel, an onboard refrigerator, a food warmer, and a sink with separate tanks for fresh and waste water - helping to create a better culinary experience for consumers. It also comes with a built-in system to hold a gas cylinder and a dustbin.
"The array and design of the units in the Smart Cart can be realigned as desired by the end-user without changing its core features on food safety, operational efficacy and energy efficiency," Rajasekharan said.
CSIR perfects technology for producing diesel from plastic waste at commercial scale
May 23, 2017
The technology developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to produce diesel from plastic waste was very close to be used for commercial production. This technology is among a host of other "useful for the common man" technologies the government was focusing on, Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan said here today, at a press conference held here to brief the media on the activities of his Ministry, on three years of the Modi government. The CSIR scientists had scaled up the technology to produce one tonne diesel per day, which was going to be very significant for energy needs at the local levels, and also for solving the problem of disposal of massive plastic was that was being generated everyday in the country. As part of a programme for providing solution to the common man's problems in their day-to-day life, and to make the youth employable, the Ministry had also embarked upon an ambitious project to train one lakh students of science in various skills in the next two years. Dr Vardhan said during the last three years, the efforts of his Ministry had been to take the technology from lab to land and to align the scientific research and development to national priorities. "We are inferior to none. We have taken long strides in weather forecasting, earthquake observation," he said and pointed out that India was also in 88 international scientific research and development collaboration, with very active 40 collaborations.The Minister said science and technology was going to play a very big role in achieving the target of doubling the farm income by 2022.Besides, it was working in a very focused way in helping in the major initiatives of Swachch Bharat, Make in India, Digital India. Dr Vardhan also spoke of the work being done to develop Ocean technology to tap its vast potential in every field, especially in energy security. To inspire the quest for science, the Ministry was soon going to lauch a 'Jigyasa' (curiosity) programme in collaboration with the HRD Ministry, under which school children will come to CSIR labs to see for themselves the work being done there, he said. In reply to a question, he said the CSIR was working on about 140 projects related to the solution of day-to-day needs of the people.
Buyers of Apple iPhone SE could soon find a "Made in India" tag on their devices. Taiwanese contact manufacturer Wistron would be making it at their plant in Bengaluru.
The company recently conducted a trial run at the factory. The few phones made during the trial run will be in stores in two weeks.
Full-scale production will take more time, according to a person familiar with Apple's plans. The global tech major confirmed the production at the sole facility in India.
"We are beginning initial production of a small number of iPhone SEs in Bengaluru. We'll begin shipping to domestic customers this month," Apple said in an email.
Karnataka was quick to claim credit for this. Its Information Technology Minister Priyank Kharge said, "It shows the Bengaluru ecosystem is able to attract the world's best companies. If the Make in India initiative has to work, we need to incentivise manufacturers to gradually increase local sourcing."
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook visited India last May and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They reportedly discussed manufacturing of iPhones in India, for the local market and export. Since then, the government has turned down Apple's demands for tax sops. But, the fast-growing domestic market seems too attractive for the company.
With a dip in iPhone sales in developed markets like the US and China, India is now a major focus for Apple. Since the country's appetite for expensive flagship devices is still small, Apple continues to produce its four-year-old iPhone 5s to compete with Xiaomi, Motorola, Samsung and others in the mid-level market.
Is domestic production going to cut prices? There is no clarity on that yet. Experts said assembling devices locally will help it save 12 per cent in taxes.
One can buy an iPhone SE for Rs 27,200 but on Flipkart and Amazon, it is available for as low as Rs 20,999. Apple is known to maintain price parity across the world. In the US, the iPhone SE starts at $399 (about Rs 25,000).
"Prices might go below Rs 20,000 only in October," said Neil Shah, research director, devices and ecosystems, Counterpoint Research. "At that price it has to compete with Chinese rivals Oppo and Vivo."
For the first time in India, a geopolymer concrete road made of fly ash and other waste materials has been successfully laid at Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee. The road was made of fly ash, the ash produced by the burning of powdered coal, from NTPC Dadri.
The road, which is 50m long and 3m wide and has a concrete strength of 40MPa, was made from fly ash, aluminate and silicate-bearing materials. As opposed to conventional cement concrete roads, this road will not need water curing.
This achievement paves the way for large-scale fly ash utilisation, NTPC Dadri officials said. The road has been developed jointly by NTPC Dadri's research and development wing ? NTPC Energy Technology Research Alliance ? and CSIR.
S K Sinha, group general manager, NTPC Dadri said fly ash discharged from the Dadri power station is being used for various purposes, such as landfilling, manufacture of ash bricks, tarring of roads and the creation of an 'ash mound' eco park. "Medicinal and other plants have also been cultivated on the ash mound. Ash utilization has been around 205% this year," Sinha said.
Visual, non-invasive monitoring of body temperature of patients without using a thermometer may become a reality soon, thanks to the work carried out by a team of scientists led by John Philip, head of the smart materials section at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam, near Chennai.
The concept is based on ferrofluid emulsion contained in a thin film that changes colour with rise in temperature within a narrow range ? 30-40° C. The study was published in the journal Optical Materials.
The emulsion has iron oxide nanoparticles containing oil droplets dispersed in water. "Till now ferrofluid was used as a magnetic stimuli-responsive material. We now found that in the presence of a temperature-sensitive polymer ? poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), also known as PNIPAM) ? the ferrofluid emulsion can be used as a thermally tunable grating to produce different colours," says Dr. Philip.
"Recently, we were looking at the interaction forces between droplets covered with thermo-responsive polymers. To our surprise, we found that the adsorbed polymer swells and collapses upon changing the temperature between 32° and 36° C. This change was clearly manifested as colour change. From this observation came the novel idea of using PNIPAM-stabilised emulsions as a multistimulii grating. This is a first of its kind approach where the grating spacing can be tuned either by changing the temperature or by changing the magnetic field strength," says Dr. Philip.
Up to about 34° C, the polymer is highly hydrated and swollen due to repulsive interaction between individual monomer segments.
But when the temperature crosses 34° C, the polymer becomes dehydrated leading to a collapsed state.
The polymer will once again become hydrated and swollen when the temperature falls below 34° C. "By using certain additives, we can tune the collapse of the polymer to higher temperature to reflect fever conditions," clarifies A.W. Zaibudeen, senior research fellow at IGCAR and the first author of the paper.
Using magnetic fields, the scientists first achieved a particular ordering (spacing between the arrays of emulsion droplets) of emulsion and got a particular colour.
When polymer is added as a stabiliser and the temperature is increased, the grating spacing of the polymer changes and gives rise to a different colour or spacing.
"The colour given off at normal temperature can be fixed by changing the emulsion property and magnetic field strength," Dr. Philip says.
If the normal temperature is fixed at yellow, the change will be to green when the temperature increases.
Colour with higher wavelength is produced at lower temperature and colour of lower wavelength at higher temperature.
Govt to revisit strategy to fight tuberculosis, says health minister
April 8, 2017 (Dharamshala)
The government is revisiting its strategy to combat tuberculosis after setting an ambitious target to eradicate the dreaded disease from India by 2025. It will come up with a national plan with an aim to have a ?dynamic strategy? to tackle the problem, according to Union health minister J.P. Nadda.
"We are revisiting our strategy to fight tuberculosis and we are coming with national plan. It is under active consideration and in the next one month we will review it," he told reporters at the TB-Free India Summit in Dharamsala. The country needs to have a dynamic strategy in order to deal with the problem, he added.
Tuberculosis (TB) takes lives of over 4.8 lakh Indians every year. Over 28 lakh TB cases are reported per year in the country. Nadda said India is also moving towards better fund allocations for the health ministry. "In terms of GDP, the funds should be 3 to 4 per cent. Health policy 2017 commits that we will bring it to 2.5 per cent of the GDP and we are moving forward in that direction," the minister said.
The ministry's budget has gone up by over 27% in the current fiscal as compared to the previous financial year, he added. Stating that fund allocation is not a problem, Nadda said the issue is the inability of the states to fully spend their respective budgets. The ministry has identified 175 districts across nine states which would require additional focus in terms of implementation of various health schemes, he added.
Nadda said India has been able to reverse cases of TB, HIV and malaria in the country due to active health programmes. Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and former BCCI chief Anurag Thakur said the central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to eradicate TB from the country by 2025. "When the head of the government makes a commitment to make country TB free by 2025 that clearly sends the message," he said.
Citing success of Jan Dhan and Ujjwala schemes, the three-time BJP MP said the government was also committed to a TB free India. In order to bring awareness regarding the disease, MPs played a twenty over cricket match with Bollywood celebrities at the HPCA stadium in Dharamsala. MPs team was led by Thakur while Bobby Deol captained the Bollywood team.
The two-day summit is jointly hosted by the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (the Union), as a part of a TB-Free India campaign being implemented by Central TB Division, ministry of health & family welfare. The meet is also supported by Challenge TB (the flagship TB control programme of the United States Agency for International Development), the Global Fund and World Health Organization.