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Amitabh Bachchan (center) and Ambassador Richard R. Verma (center left) with guests at the reception. Photograph by Rakesh Malhotra
Amitabh Bachchan (center) and Ambassador Richard R. Verma (center left) with guests at the reception. Photograph by Rakesh Malhotra

Envisioning a TB-Free India

On March 7, Ambassador Richard R. Verma was joined by Amitabh Bachchan, the Government of India’s brand ambassador for the “Call to Action for a TB-Free India,” civil society members, health workers, patient advocates and corporate representatives for a reception in anticipation of World Tuberculosis Day on March 24.

Held at Roosevelt House, the residence of the ambassador, the reception was aimed at keeping up the momentum behind collaborative tuberculosis (TB) eradication efforts. The program featured insights from TB survivors, including Bachchan, to highlight the urgency behind the fight to end the disease in India.

“Working with the Government of India and Indian partners, the U.S. government has invested close to $100 million to prevent and control TB in India, and has helped to treat over 15 million people in the last 18 years. ... Each of us has an important role in this fight to end TB under the leadership of the Government of India. Working together and leveraging our combined capacities, we can win this fight,” Ambassador Verma said at the event.

Ambassador Verma, while introducing Bachchan to the audience, spoke about his connection with the legendary actor. “When we immigrated to Pennsylvania as really one of the first Indian families in our community, it was Mr. Bachchan’s movies that would be up on screen bringing the few Indian families together in our local community center,” he said. “The families there had these incredible memories and connections back to the place that they [had] left and I think about what your movies did to pull that community together to inspire people. And now, to be able to be with you in this capacity is really a great honor.”

Thanking the Ambassador for sharing this anecdote, Bachchan then shared his perspective on the challenges faced by many TB patients. “Stigma and discrimination against people with TB can occur anywhere—in the workplace, health care facilities, within the community and even in their own homes. The fear of discrimination prevents people from seeking timely help, making the disease harder to treat,” he said. “Being a TB survivor myself, I have a deep and more direct connect to the campaign. I hope I can help to spread awareness, and reduce the stigma associated with TB.”