Keeping community in mind

April 12, 2022

At the recent event of Karnataka Health Promotion Trust, its CEO, HL Mohan speaks with SUPRIYA RAMESH about importance of people’s movement in TB elimination

TB eradication has been talked about for years. Why can’t we tackle it yet?

There are two things that need to be enhanced. First, stigma is still playing a huge part as a hindrance to TB eradication. If we have to address this, the health system alone can’t be held responsible. Second, in order to eliminate the disease, we have to involve many departments – at the district and panchayat levels. Earlier, this was not the case. Now, the stakeholders are thinking of joining hands.

Why are we always dependent on the Governments to solve our problems?

It is not as if people are not going for TB treatment. It may be another thing that they may go to a quack or a private hospital for their treatment. The TB tests are free of cost. The problem arises when the patients end up going to a quack and there are wrong diagnoses. This delays the treatment.

Historically, TB patients were kept outside the villages or in sanatoriums. This is still ingrained in the minds of people and is hampering proper treatment. But all this will change in the coming months. With advancement in treatment today, the disease can now be cured within six months.

How to tackle the problems facing the Government?

It is very important to keep the community in mind. Their mindset needs to change, not just one or two people but the entire village needs to be involved. When it comes to diseases like HIV and TB, people’s perception about the disease has to be changed. We were able to do this with HIV since there were so many programmes that were introduced to create awareness. All stakeholders came together. The same has to be done for TB elimination.vAre we lacking in creating awareness about TB?

It is time that we involved all the departments. We can no longer be working in isolation. The Panchayat, the district level and even the state healthcare officials need to be on one single platform. The NGOs need to come together as well. Each state must share real-time information too.

What does people’s movement perspective mean when it comes to TB?

It entails people’s participation, people’s involvement when it comes to TB eradication. Everyone needs to be involved – irrespective of whether the person is a patient or caregiver or a neighbour. In other words, it has to be a people’s movement rather than a health department’s.

Take polio for example. Each and every member of the society was involved from the health departments across the country to even Rotary Clubs and Asha workers. Everyone was involved and came together to help each other. This is what we need for TB elimination.

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