Eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan was felicitated on Friday for his contribution towards eradication of tuberculosis.
REACH, a Chennai-based non-profit organisation working towards eradicating TB for over two decades, organised a virtual event at which Professor Swaminathan, who was its founding chair, was felicitated. Since the organisation’s inception in 1998, he has instilled the need for a more holistic approach to TB by engaging communities and the private sector, a press release said.
Speaking at the event, Professor Swaminathan pointed out the three steps to tackle an issue as crucial as TB — the first was to identify the problem, then to understand the nature of the issue and third, to mobilise and organise people to work together towards the common goal of TB elimination.
N. Ram, Director, The Hindu Publishing Group, and former Editor-in-Chief of the The Hindu, said, “The two most interesting aspects about Professor Swaminathan’s approach to issues, be it hunger or a disease like TB, are that he thinks big — he wants to eliminate hunger, eliminate tuberculosis, and in order to implement the vision, he works out the steps, policies and programmes in an evidence-based framework.”
Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organisation, said that TB elimination needed more than a biomedical approach; nutrition, gender and livelihood issues also need to be addressed.
“There is a lot that remains to be done to achieve TB elimination, and we are further set back due to COVID-19. We have to learn from the COVID-19 response, particularly in terms of new technologies and adapting to the situation. I hope those learnings will be taken up for TB as well.”
Nalini Krishnan, Secretary and former Director of REACH, said that it was Professor Swaminathan’s vision of having an organisation which would act as an intermediary between the healthcare system and people seeking care that led to the birth of REACH.
Sudha Ravi and S. Sivamurugan, founding members of REACH, felicitated Professor Swaminathan on the occasion. P.R. Narayanan, former Director, Tuberculosis Research Centre (now National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis), and Ramya Ananthakrishnan, Director of REACH, were present, the release said.