BMC's 5-star event for TB campaign draws flak

After a corporator’s objections, the civic body has come under fire for its decision to launch its TB awareness campaign in a five-star hotel inaccessible to most of the health workers

While the BMC’s effort to combat tuberculosis — with a new TB awareness campaign — is laudable, the corporation is facing criticism for having sidelined its grassroots health workers before the programme could even begin. For, instead of hosting the campaign’s launch at its own TB hospital in Sewri, or at the Mayor’s Bungalow, it has opted for the glitzier five-star J W Marriott Hotel.

J W Marriott Hotel
The J W Marriott Hotel in Juhu, where the event will be held tomorrow evening. File pic

The venue, and the fact that invitations will be limited, will make the launch inaccessible to most health workers, Samajwadi Party corporator, Ashraf Azmi, has argued. This would defeat the purpose of the launch and the awareness campaign, he says.

“Starting a campaign against TB is a very good inititative, since the number of cases is on the rise. But the venue makes attendance difficult for the health workers, women’s self-help groups, NGOs and volunteers who are working to fight against TB on ground level,” said Azmi, adding he has written to the BMC commissioner and to Mayor Snehal Ambekar on the matter.

Amitabh Bachchan
BMC officials a short film, featuring Amitabh Bachchan, with messages about TB awareness will be launched at the event. File pic

“Instead of J W Marriott, the BMC should have chosen a ground or the Mayor’s Bungalow, where every person involved in the fight against TB can go easily. This will encourage ground-level staff to work with more energy,” he added.

BMC speak
According to the Executive Health Officer, Padmaja Keskar, the venue had been chosen considering the dignitaries expected to attend the event, as the campaign was developed in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “After the launch, we will start the awareness campaign at the ward level to cover more people. This function will only launch a short film in which Amitabh Bachchan  gives some messages for TB awareness. The film will later be circulated through social media,” she said, adding that the BMC had roped in the superstar to create awareness since it had observed a rise in the number of drug-resistant TB cases in the past few years. The event will be held  tomorrow evening, launching the ‘Mumbai Mission TB Control’ programme.

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