Two day Workshop cum Meeting on Prevention of TB in Tibetan schools

Education Kalon Ngodup Tsering, Health Secretary Mr Tsegyal Dranyi, Delek Hospital adminsitrator Mr Dawa Phunkyi, THF General Secretary Mr Karma Chungdak, TCV general secretary Mr Thupten Dorjee and Dr Lobsang Tsering at the inaugural session of the workshop.

Kalon Ngodup Tsering of the Department of Education, Central Tibetan Administration, today inaugurated a two-day workshop cum meeting on prevention of TB in Tibetan schools. The workshop is organised by the Department of Health at Norbu House, Mcleod Ganj.

At least 50 principals, rectors, headmasters and nurses from all the major Tibetan school systems namely Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV), Tibetan Homes Foundation (THF) and Sambhota Tibetan School (STS), are participating in the workshop.

Delivering the keynote address, Kalon Ngodup Tsering spoke about Tuberculosis (TB) as one of the biggest challenges that continue to plague the health of the Tibetan community. He specifically pointed out Tibetan students in boarding schools as the most severely affected and expressed concern at the growing health menace.

He called on Tibetan school administrators, including staff, teachers and particularly health workers, to exert extra emphasis on the healthcare needs of Tibetan children. He described Tibetan children as the future leaders of the Tibetan movement and health of Tibetan children as crucial to develop the Tibetan movement into a robust political force. He explained academic excellence of Tibetan students as highly dependent on physical and mental health of the students.

Kalon also lauded Delek hospital’s ongoing campaign ‘Zero TB in Tibetan Kids’ as a big step towards complete eradication of TB in the Tibetan community. He called the campaign as working in accordance with Himachal state government’s vision of eradicating TB within the state by 2022.

Kalon further called on fixing a specific target date for the complete eradication of TB in the Tibetan community, and urged all concerned staff and institutes to devise creative and effective strategies towards this end.

Dr Sonam Topgyal presenting his research findings on TB in Tibetan community in India during the workshop.

Kalon lamented the fact that the occurrence of TB as more frequent in the Tibetan community when compared to other communities. However, he recalled an advice by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and expressed hope that this is something that we, the Tibetan people can collectively resolve if we put effort into it.

He also noted the dwindling number of students in Tibetan schools and exclaimed that school administrators should turn this recent development into an opportunity to focus more on individual students. He urged the teachers and staff to develop collective responsibility and inculcate civic sense in the students. Kalon further pointed out that school authorities should involve all staff

members including foster parents and cooks in healthcare workshops as they are closely associated with students.

He concluded by urging the participants to express frank opinions and suggestions during the workshop to develop an effective strategy to combat TB in the Tibetan community.

Health Secretary Mr Tsegyal Dranyi gave the welcome remarks of the workshop. In his remarks, he outlined TB as a global health menace, particularly the Tibetan community where TB has remained one of the greatest health challenges since the early years of Tibetan exile.

He talked about the health department’s constant efforts to reduce TB among the public through treatments, medical check-ups and most notably through mass awareness campaigns.

He lauded the respective TB eradication target dates set by world health organisation (2030), Indian health ministry (2025) and Himachal Pradesh state government (2022), and expressed the Tibetan health department’s active participation towards the achievement of this goal.

Secretary Tsegyal Dranyi further recalled His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s remarks about inadequate preventive measures in healthcare during the centenary celebration of Mentseekhang last year. Since then, the health department is making extra efforts towards development of Tibetan health, he said.

Mr Migmar Tashi from health department at the workshop cum meeting.

He outlined three specific groups namely students in boarding schools, monks & nuns, and sweater sellers as particularly prone to TB. However, he noted the reduction of TB cases in the first two groups but expressed concern at the still growing cases of TB among Tibetan students.

He extended the health department’s wholehearted assistance and participation in any TB reduction programs to create a healthy Tibetan society.

The inaugural session also included presentations based on research by Dr Sonam Topgyal from Delek hospital and Dr Lobsang Tsering from Department of Health.