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Where are the doctors?

with 2 comments

4 April 2017

As the buzz around World TB Day settles, it’s time to introspect. What did we do which was different from all other special days? Social media was humming with people reminding each other that TB was a killer, TB needed to go away and TB was needlessly still around when it was so easy to eradicate it.

There were, thankfully, survivors coming out and narrating their stories of struggle with the disease and how they overcame it. We also actually saw pictures of celebrations and marches around the fight of good over evil (TB). New slogans have been rolled out and we’re probably finally in campaign mode. Good. It shows we’ve moved a great distance from where we were a few years ago when TB was good for a few stray editorials and drab administration-driven ‘functions’ that did some lip-service and then it was back to business as usual.

Where were the doctors?

There was however, one thing that did NOT change. Where were the doctors? Let’s face it. We can go blue in the face trying to apply the HIV advocacy template to TB, bring survivors to the fore to speak up for their rights, as they need to. But till the doctors speak, till the doctors act and till the doctors pledge to join the fight, we’re getting nowhere – make no mistake. TB is a doctor-driven disease; unlike HIV, it is NOT merely a medical condition, that can be controlled by taking lifelong medication. It needs the constant monitoring, commitment and skills of a medical professional to cure it. It needs to be addressed with aggression.

It doesn’t matter if a cured TB patient stays with the cause or not. In fact it is a happy state if s/he can go back to life like nothing happened. But if doctors don’t stay committed we have a non-starter in the fight against TB.

Doctors are the missing link, and so were they, this TB Day too. I did not hear a doctor, see a doctor or feel the presence of one in any of the many posts, editorials or any other efforts to observe the special day. I did not hear one impassioned appeal or pledge.

No, I err. I did hear a lone voice, screaming out for help and cautioning us against complacency.

Dr Zarir Udwadia, you were right there, sounding the alarm, cautioning us to wake up. We, each of us, and all us in fact are in danger in one way or another. If I’m diabetic, my vulnerabilities are greater, if I’m a senior citizen, my chances of getting TB are stronger, if I have any kind of compromised immunity, I’m right there for TB to hack away at. If I’m poor, if I’m hungry, if I’m just standing around in the presence of someone who has TB I can get it. You reminded us Zarir. You reminded us of the ticking time bomb amidst us. And yet, your fraternity seemed not to care.

But we have to thank you for your commitment. I do hope you lead the battle with the same vigour and passion and inspire your ilk. I was greatly inspired by your TED talk and reproduce it here. More power to you.

Bharathi Ghanashyam

Written by JournalistsAgainstTB

April 4, 2017 at 3:39 pm

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