US envoy visits Dharavi hospital

Mumbai: US Ambassador Richard Verma visited Sai Hospital in Mumbai's Dharavi slum as part of an international initiative, an official said here on Tuesday. Verma was informed about US Agency for International Development's (USAID) support to test and diagnose HIV in patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB) as part of the US commitment fight the two diseases in India. He interacted with medicos, health care workers and patients to discuss the magniture of TB and HIV among the vulnerable poor in India. "Meeting with patients today who are suffering from both TB and HIV emphasises the critical need to diagnose and treat both of these diseases simultaneously, and bring our resources to bear so that we can together achieve a TB-free India," Verma said later. "I was diagnosed with HIV and TB at a local health care facility, which is now also helping me receive proper treatment and provides counseling. The availability of all three services near my home is a huge relief for me and my family as we cope with the diseases," said a patient being treated at the Sai Hospital here with USAID support. With more than a quarter of all TB cases in the world, around two persons die from TB every three minutes in India. All TB patients are also required to be tested for HIV in an effort to treat both diseases together and help India achieve the vision of eradicating the two diseases. Since 1998, USAID has partnered with India to combat TB with an investment of more than $100 million to diagnose and treat 15 million patients living with the dieases. Another $204 millon has been invested since 2004 to tackle HIV and help create an AIDS-free generation, as part of US' commitment to support India in efforts to treat both diseases together. USAID helps private health care providers link TB patients to public health facilities in order to test HIV, saving lives by diagnosing and co-treating HIV and TB. It also provides advocacy, counseling and support services for HIV and TB co-infected patients. IANS