Tuberculosis- India fights back!
An old man coughing incessantly, spitting out bloody sputum, ribs protruding from his chest making themselves prominent with each passing day sits next to the doctor with little hope in his eyes. The doctor looks up at the chest x-ray with a grim face before giving a diagnosis. The patient’s eyes oscillating between the doctor and the grey and black film trying to figure out something, anything from the otherwise incomprehensive x ray film. Finally the doctor turns to the patient and says,” It’s TB. Don’t worry it’s curable. Take the medicines I prescribe you . You will be all right.”The man’s eyes lights up a little in his other wise hopeless and full of despair face.
Tuberculosis has spread its tentacles to even the most remote place of our country. Believe me ,no one is spared. Statistics give an alarming figure- in Maharashtra alone 2,14,102 new cases of TB were reported of which 9172 were cases of drug resistant TB. Despite the innovative schemes and techniques adopted by the government , TB continues to be a long fought battle.
A mass awareness campaign ‘TB Harega Desh Jeetega’, with the iconic Amitabh Bachchan as its ambassador, was launched by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) in 2014 and was subsequently adopted by the central government. The widely popular campaign was disseminated across the country through various mediums.
Last year, based on WHO’s recommendations, Maharashtra shifted from an intermittent to a daily drug regimen. A new anti-TB drug, Bedaquiline, was introduced as part of the DR-TB treatment regimen in Maharashtra and has shown successful results. CBNAAT machines were made available for all TB patients through district hospitals and government medical colleges to augment the state’s capacity for timely and accurate diagnosis of DR-TB.
Additionally, to improve patient tracking and follow-ups, technology based adherence solutions such as 99 DOTS have been rolled out across Maharashtra. Patients call in a toll free helpline with unique numbers printed on the back of the medicine sleeves after taking their doses. This allows programme staff to review adherence and support those who miss their doses.
Maharashtra has set out an example for everyone else and has become one of the first states in the country that introduced schemes to provide nutrition support to TB patients.
Finally, TB elimination requires a multi-pronged approach with the participation of every sector. With the new Corporate Social Responsibility strategy in place, MCGM is partnering with donors to encourage CSR funding towards awareness, nutrition, infection control, and community engagement initiatives.
Our success with eliminating diseases like smallpox and polio is now proof that when political leadership, government officials, grassroots level functionaries and civil society synergise efforts, no health challenge is unsurmountable.
TB harega, desh jeetega.