journalistsagainsttb

Fusing journalism and TB – telling the stories as they are

Why TB is rampant in India – Could this be the reason?

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I’m sure this is not something no one knows. These are historical facts. But if we were to contextualise these facts into today’s situation with the rampant incidence of TB in India, it could offer a new perspective.

I quote from Shashi Tharoor’s book Pax Indica – India and the World of the 21st Century. He writes…”From a nation that had once been among the world’s richest, and which as late as 1820 accounted (in the estimate of the late British economic historian Angus Maddison) for 23% of global GDP, we had been reduced by 1947 into one of the poorest, most backward, most illiterate and diseased societies on earth. From 1900 – 1947, the rate of growth of the Indian economy was not even 1%, while population grew steadily at well over 3.5%. Imperial rule left a society with 16% literacy, practically no domestic industry and over 90% living below what today we would call the poverty line…”

We Indians often castigate our system and our governments and accuse them of not having done enough towards progress despite our having been independent for over six decades. Without meaning to search for excuses, I believe that the real reason lies not merely in lack of good governance, but elsewhere. The above facts do point to the severe challenges an Independent India must have been faced with. It needs no great intelligence to understand that poverty and illiteracy are powerful determinants of health, or the lack of it. If, as facts demonstrate, we had 90% of our population living below the poverty line, doesn’t it also mean that ill-health, particularly TB would be a natural fall-out of the situation? Poverty would mean lack of good food, housing and affordability of healthcare. Illiteracy would mean lack of options for earning a livelihood. Both together would have predictably held the portents for a nation riddled with ill-health – malnutrition, TB etc being the most obvious and visible signs.

Having said all this, it is also important to point out that those worthy people, to whom we had trustingly handed the reins of governing our free country, should have had the foresight and wisdom to prioritise areas that were potentially vital to progress – not merely economic, but also social. Healthcare should have a been non-negotiable priority way back. If it had been, we would not have 1000 people dying of TB today. We wouldn’t have such high rates of malnutrition among children and we wouldn’t have babies dying before they had a chance to even set eyes on this wondrous world.

Now, with MDR, XDR and TDR having become everyday words with regard to TB, is it too late? Should the powers be reflect on the lack of action down the years and quickly take the action required? I think the answer is YES! We do not have the luxury of falling back on excuses to explain away our inaction.

Bharathi Ghanashyam

Written by JournalistsAgainstTB

August 19, 2012 at 5:33 am

Posted in TB and Media

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