Tuberculosis is one of the world’s leading public health challenges, even in today’s scientifically advanced age. Despite the free treatment provided in many countries, there is a large number of people (10.4 million in 2015: WHO, 2017) who are being infected and are eventually succumbing to the disease, especially in the low and middle-income families.
India is the country with the highest burden of TB patients and it ranks eight among the world’s 22 high burden TB countries, with approximately 1.8 million new cases yearly. One third of the people estimated to have TB are either not diagnosed or not reported in time. More alarmingly over 20% of the TB cases in the urban slums of Kolkata are Drug Resistant of (MDR) patients who are potential transmitters of MDR TB to others.
But why is TB becoming a critical issue or an urban epidemic or a silent killer?
The most important reason would be malnutrition. Mostly all the TB patients in urban spaces are poor and live in unhygienic slums and squatters. Most of them do not have enough resources to fund at least two meals a day. In this situation, a TB patient, whose proper nutrition is a very important road to recovery, is the worst sufferer.
Development Action Society (DAS), a registered NGO with FCRA and 80G exemption of Income Tax Act working in urban and peri-urban spaces in and around Kolkata since 1989 with over 100,000 beneficiaries, has taken up an initiative to control this disease in 08 wards of Tangra Urban Health District (UHD) of Kolkata Municipal Corporation. The entire UHD is a proven hotspot for this disease with over 500 TB patients. DAS is committed to pilot some community centric models for TB care and cure to ensure positive treatment outcomes.
Since malnutrition can lead to secondary immunodeficiency that increases the host’s susceptibility to infection, DAS is proposing to distribute monthly dry ration / food basket to 100 most vulnerable TB (DR, Co-morbid, women and children) patients in the Tangra UHD to enhance the efficacy of medication and improve their BMI (Body Mass Index) during the normal course of treatment, which is usually 06 months.
The donors can contribute to fight against this disease that kills so many. A typical dry ration hamper containing 16 items of daily consumption costs only Rs. 1500/- per patient per month.
Being highly contagious, this disease can affect anyone and everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, economic status or religion. From John Keats to Jinnah and even Amitabh Bachchan, Tuberculosis has been ruthless in choosing victims. But together we can fight and drive out this dreadful disease. YES, WE CAN!!