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

isk of developing TB in TB-infected people is 10%, compared to at least 50% in HIV co-infected. HIV is also the most powerful risk factor for progression from TB infection to TB disease.

Even more worrisome TB among children is on the rise. According to the latest figures, it is increasing even in such so-called progressive states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

There is of course this debate over the current paradigm of economic development where some sections advance much faster. So one has to be skeptical about labels like progressive, witness the horrid suicides in the cotton belt of Maharashtra. That apart in Tamil Nadu the official patronage of drinking is a matter of serious concern, says Deivanayagam.

Congested living, tremendous stress at the workplace and easy access to alcohol have meant more and more are hitting the bottle. And the infected father passes on the disease to his children.

What is the way out then? Of course concrete measures to reduce poverty and illiteracy, most urgently in the BIMARU region (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh), considered the most underdeveloped pocket.

Awareness level of TB should increase through sustained campaigns, at the same time access to treatment clinics and hospitals should also improve, not to speak of the availability of drugs.

And give back the choice to the patients. If they want the DOTS, that is fine. But if they want the SAT, ensure that one-size-fits-all approach has never worked anywhere, it is not going to in TB treatment either, the veteran crusader feels. And this is his message - empower the people, make them strong, they will resist TB infection and disease effectively. Hope the government will listen, some time.
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