Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. is proud to announce its collaboration with the internationally acclaimed social change organization the MTV Staying Alive Foundation on a youth-focused 'Edutainment' campaign in India, MTV Nishedh, which aims to raise awareness and reduce stigma around critical health and social issues facing young people. Through an educational grant, Johnson & Johnson is supporting the inclusion of tuberculosis (TB) messaging for the very first time in an MTV Staying Alive campaign, as part of the Company's 10-year initiative to fight TB and in support of the Government of India's goal of ending TB by 2025.
On 20th Jan, 2020, one of the seminal components of the MTV Nishedh campaign - a 7-week, 13-part TV drama series, which will air from January 25, 2020 at 8 pm IST on MTV India - was officially announced at an event in Mumbai. Among other storylines, the drama follows the struggles and triumphs of two characters with TB to help inform young people about the signs and symptoms of disease, encourage those who might be affected to seek care, and debunk common myths to help reduce the social stigma often faced by patients.
"It's time to make more people aware of TB, remove the stigma associated with the disease, and help those in need of treatment access the best possible care," said Sarthak Ranade, Managing Director, Janssen India, Johnson & Johnson Private Limited. "At Johnson & Johnson, we have been working closely with the Government of India, NGOs and other local partners to combat TB and DR-TB at all levels by building capacity and expanding access to treatment. Building on this commitment, our Company is incredibly proud to support the MTV Nishedh campaign to empower youth and advocate for a TB-free India."
Despite being a preventable and treatable disease, TB kills one person every minute in India, and the vast majority of TB cases are reported among young people in their most productive years. Of the 10 million estimated cases of TB in 2018, only 7 million were diagnosed, meaning there are 3 million 'missing' patients who are not aware that they are infected - approximately 700,000 of which live in India. Further, the emergence of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) has made addressing the disease even more challenging, and TB is now the leading cause of deaths due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) globally. Stigma and lack of awareness are often key reasons why those affected are not diagnosed and treated.
By engaging young people - which comprise two-thirds of the population in India - MTV Nishedh is setting out to address this. The campaign builds on the success of MTV Staying Alive Foundation's multi-award-winning campaign with proven impact, 'MTV Shuga', which has helped to generate positive behavior change around HIV and sexual and reproductive health across Africa.
In addition to the TV drama, the J&J-supported campaign also includes a 15-part MTV Nishedh Live radio program, which has been airing on RED FM since October, as well as compelling and informative online content. A peer-to-peer education program, which will also feature TB modules, will be launching soon.
"We are thrilled to be working with Johnson & Johnson to include TB in our campaign programming for the first time - particularly in India, a country so hard hit by this devastating disease," said Georgia Arnold, Executive Director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Executive Producer of MTV Nishedh. "We hope that the MTV Nishedh campaign will play a key role in helping to improve diagnosis rates in the country by informing young people about TB, breaking down the stigma around the disease and, ultimately, encouraging youth to treat those impacted by TB with the respect, courtesy and dignity that they deserve."
For our part, Johnson & Johnson TB experts provided critical input to the MTV team on the technical aspects of TB disease and enabled TB survivors to inform the campaign to ensure the experiences and emotions faced by patients are realistically portrayed.
"Johnson & Johnson is incredibly proud to be working with the MTV Staying Alive Foundation on this important campaign - which we hope will engage more young people in the fight against TB and help bring conversations about this disease out of the shadows," said Cat Oyler, Vice President, Tuberculosis, Global Public Health, Johnson & Johnson. "This collaboration is one of a series of new partnerships that Johnson & Johnson will be undertaking to help reach the 'missing millions' of TB and DR-TB patients in India and around the world, as part of our global 10-year initiative to help create a world without TB."
The MTV Nishedh TV series will also be aired on COLORS Rishtey beginning on February 1, 2020 at 10:30 pm IST, and episodes will be available for streaming on Viacom's Video On Demand (VOD) platform, VOOT.
About Johnson & Johnson's Commitment to TB
Johnson & Johnson has been a committed partner in the fight against TB for more than two decades. When bedaquiline received its initial accelerated approval by the U.S. FDA in 2012 to treat MDR-TB in adults, as part of combination therapy, it was the first targeted TB medicine with a novel mechanism of action in more than 40 years. Today, it is approved for use in 61 countries, with regulatory pathways identified for all United Nations (UN) Member States.
To date, over 184,000 courses of bedaquiline have been delivered to 133 countries, including the 30 countries with the highest burdens of MDR-TB. From 2015-2019, we provided 105,000 courses of treatment, free of charge, to 80 countries - including 22,000 courses to India - through a four-year donation program operated in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and JSC Pharmstandard. We have also supported efforts to build critical health systems capacity in high-burden countries by training health workers, improving diagnostic capacity and raising awareness about TB at the community level.
Building on this, in September 2018, Johnson & Johnson announced a comprehensive 10-year initiative in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal target of ending the TB pandemic by 2030. With the goal of saving an estimated 1.8 million lives and preventing 12 million new TB infections in the next decade, Johnson & Johnson will work with partners to improve detection of undiagnosed TB cases, broaden access to bedaquiline for MDR-TB, and accelerate research & development (R&D) to discover next-generation TB treatments. Notably, in October 2019, Johnson & Johnson announced the expansion of its TB program in India through a series of new capacity building collaborations with the government and multilateral and non-governmental organizations.