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Community volunteers fortify TB treatment in India

Apr 28, 2014

According to India’s Revised National TB Control Programme, about 800,000 cases are infectious and causing 1,000 deaths every day.

New Delhi:  The stairs leading up to the apartment of the Singh family in the center of Jalandhar are steep and worn. Breathless, one arrives at the first floor only to discover another winding flight to climb.

A challenge for anyone, healthy or sick. Yet, 14-year-old Suchi Singh does it with determination.

She climbs though it makes her breathing heavier. She climbs although she can longer hear the echo of her heels. She climbs although her young body is over-run by a disease forcing her into a difficult treatment.

As she comes to greet me, her playful dark eyes sparkle behind the handkerchief covering her nose and mouth. Except for the beige piece of cloth, nothing speaks of her suffering from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB), a strain which takes two years to cure and is 200 times more expensive than the treatment for category I patients.

Along with painful injections, and the unwelcome side effect of losing part of her hearing, she takes seven pills every day.

“It’s a lot of bitter pills to swallow, but I wish to get well,” she says, now halfway through the treatment.

One of the reasons to the successful adherence to her treatment stands next to her; Indian Red Cross volunteers Charanjit and Hardeep. Since Suchi was diagnosed with MDR TB, they have made many house calls, provided advice, supported her with transport to the hospital and with adding supplementary protein to her diet, as weight loss is frequent among patients.

“To submit the toxic side effects of the MDR treatment is a challenge to anyone. The human touch in the TB intervention is the key to success,” says Dr. Kailash Raizada, Senior Advisor to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

With nearly two million new cases in India each year, the task to combat TB in India is monumental. According to India’s Revised National TB Control Programme, about 800,000 cases are infectious and causing 1,000 deaths every day.

Click here to read the full article.

SOURCE: IFRC

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