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Tuberculosis, A Challenge To The Political Will Of Governments, Says Veteran Crusader

e DOTS of the WHO has failed to take into account the ground realities. He shrugs away all the numbers bandied out and says acidly, "From the way the program is structured, the abysmal poverty in which vast masses are sunk across the globe, the highly unhygienic conditions in which they are forced to live, the all too obvious lack of political will on the part of many governments to tackle such root causes and the consequent explosion in the numbers of the TB-patients, it is inconceivable that any dent has been made anywhere."

He notes that the very idea of making the TB patients visit the clinics thrice a week for treatment and collect medicines under the DOTS is almost outrageous. For how many can afford to trek to the nearest clinic that many times a week, who will pay them the transport fare and who will compensate them for the loss of the wages? he wonders. And any interruption in the administration of medicine could be fatal for the efficacy. But such is the way the entire regimen has been conceived, it is bound to fail, Deivanayagam asserts.

He still swears by the previous Self-Administered Therapy (SAT) where the patients are given medicine at one go for a month.

If the DOTS had been that effective, why the disaster looming large on almost every front, he challenges. The Directorate General concedes, " The TB burden in India is still staggering. Every year, 1.8 million persons develop the disease, of which about 800,000 are infectious; and, until recently, 370,000 died of it annually —1,000 every day."

Already the multi-drug resistant and extensively drug resistant strains of the TB have emerged, making a mockery of the official claims of success globally.

The HIV pandemic has been the latest addition to this witches' brew. TB and HIV are closely interlinked. In India there are an estimated over 5 million HIV-infected persons. And HIV breaks down the immune system. Without HIV, the lifetime r
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