Tuberculosis: The Terrorist who kills 2 lakh Indians every year - GODYEARS

Tuberculosis: The Terrorist who kills 2 lakh Indians every year

October 23, 2017

Though a global terrorist, he kills more Indians than any other nationality in the world. He finds us easy targets - poor, vulnerable and easily available in large quantities in sub-par, cramped localities.

Unlike most terrorists, he does not discriminate based on religion or caste. Children, elderly, pregnant women, even babies - he has no qualms in killing them all. He does not kill quickly either. He likes to take his time, teasing and torturing you, breaking you down till you cannot breathe, eat or move. Till you lose the will to live. Then he watches as you die.

India's premier medical institute, AIIMS Delhi, has a massive 1766 beds. Imagine all those beds filled with a diverse population of young and old. Now imagine all of them dead. Each and every one. Worse, imagine 125 such hospitals filled with dead people of all ages and sizes. That is what this killer does every year to India. What he has been doing for decades to India.
Financially, India lost $ 340 billion in 8 years alone because of the death and disabilities he caused.

His name is Mycobacterium tuberculosis. You know him as Tuberculosis (TB).
He is 1/1000th of a millimeter in size. And he kills more than 2 lakh Indians every year. 

See those reddish rods in this microscopic view? 
That is your tiny terrorist tuberculosis.

Look around you. Can you see at least three people? 

Well, as per the most conservative estimate, the killer is already inside at least one of you right now, lying latent and biding his time. This is no joke - there is a very good chance that if you are living in India and do a routine test, you will be positive for Tuberculosis today. The only difference is that this killer is residing in a latent form within you FOR NOW. When your immunity weakens some day in the future, the status quo will change.

Every year, 20 lakh new cases of tuberculosis are detected in India. The danger of multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis -  a form of the disease that does not respond to the normal drugs used for TB - is now a scary reality in India.

Unlike your perceived threats of what some religious leaders/fanatics and óthers' may do, Tuberculosis is a real terrorist in India. 

And we are horribly ill-equipped to deal with it with health ministries passing the buck and responsibility between state and center even as Indians die every single day. Every review of his activities shows that he is only getting stronger and more resistant to our aging methods and weapons. That we are woefully out of our depth in defeating him even a decade from now.
Worse, because this killer can neither be seen nor communalised, we actually reduce the funding for it by 25 % even as the rest of the world begs India to do more to defeat the menace of tuberculosis

We cannot keep losing more than 2 lakh Indians every year. They maybe 2 lakh strangers who mean nothing to you this year. But some year, it will be the one person who means the world to you.

Authors note:

I had written a more in-depth article a few years back begging for Tuberculosis patients to have access and availability to their medicines, both of which were not being done. Sadly, things seem to have just gotten worse.

As doctors, we know how bad the situation is in India vis-a-vis this monster Tuberculosis but our voice has rarely, if ever, counted. We need you - the general public - to wake up to the impending Tuberculosis disaster that is coming in India and demand that your health and safety be made a priority.



This was my take for the prompt by #WriteTribe based on the word 'Monster' 


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33 comments

  1. I don't know that TB is this serious. I remember a relative getting this and even after medication she keep on getting this again and again after it reduces. I felt, immunity is the key differentiator.

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    1. Immunity really matters. And in today's day and age, with all sorts of diseases around, people are always likely to have a weaker immunity at some point of time

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  2. The awareness for TB is surfacing in India after I think Mr Bachchan started talking about it on TV! Its a scary disease and I remember one doctor telling me years ago about how he wanted to check me for TB as everything else was normal. I was so shocked and asked him how could I have TB - thats when he explained that this lies dormant in our bodies and can trigger up due to any cause at all!! Scary part is the admisntrative apathy in India! Thanks for raising your voice as a doctor on this topic Roshan!

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    1. What scares me in these comments is the false belief that TB has gone from India... we are not even close to getting rid of it, not by a decade at teh very least

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  3. Thank you for writing about TB, doc. I have a close friend who almost died due to it. The guy is my age and he is still recovering. This disease is such a menace and both the government and the public are so ignorant. I hope more people understand how easy it is to get, how the course must be completed and that there are multi-drug and total-drug resistant strains that are almost fatal.

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    1. Multi-drug versions are now rising in statistics and that can only end in death for a family which cannot end the higher end drugs

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  4. This is very scary and truly a monster. I thought there was the BCG vaccine for TB. Is that discontinued now?

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    1. BCG is still given to every child. But it provides a first line of defense at best. Without it, the numbers would have been far worse.

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  5. A real time monster attacking human lives stealthily...Why is it that this monster loves invading lives in India more? Is lack awareness about it the actual hidden monster? Or is the treatment out of reach or is it that there is no fool proof treatment for this?
    Ah... so many painful questions...
    Very informative, eye opener post!

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    1. Lack of awareness, prolonged duration of treatment (6 months plus) which requires dedication and finances from the patients, poor compliance, apathy from the govt (state and central alike) because noone seems to care

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  6. Gosh...I thought TB was no more a scare in India.But, this blog-post of yours proves me wrong. Previously , we had places demarked as Sanatoriums for TB patients and looks like at this alarming rate we are gonna revert to the same old days :/

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    1. Way wrong, I fear. TB is still a huge menace in India and affects both the urban and rural crowd unbiased.

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  7. I had really no idea that TB was such a deadly disease. I thought that Cancer or AIDS caused more deaths in India. The only fact that consumption(or as TB was known then) had caused the deaths of many famous poets and authors.

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    1. No... it is still very much a problem in India and continues to increase rather than decrease with every year

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  8. You are right, TB is the terrorist of India. It used to be known as the poor man's disease , but it doesn't difrentiate anymore.
    Thank you for spreading awareness about it.

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    1. definitely not so nowadays. Even the urban population gets it

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  9. A good way to bring attention to a 'terrorist' lurking quietly inside some of us. I've been hearing about the rise in numbers and it is alarming to say the least. Hope your post will help impart more information amongst the rest of us.

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    1. I wish it did. But as usual, people won't care... if only TB had a religion to hate

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  10. I really thought otherwise. I thought it was long-gone. I am surprised it still exists inside each one of us waiting to make the call. Thanks for this heads-up Doc. Truly, I read this with eyes wide open!

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    1. Lack of awareness of the disease scares me most. People just seem to have assumed it is not a factor anymore.

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  11. Oh I have seen this from very close, one of my family member suffered from Tuberculosis. There is no flesh left on his body, only bones with a thin layer of skin & charred complexion. Got diagnosed very late that it's TB.
    Wish if we take more our coughs and regular ailments seriously, no such major outbreak can set the records jittery.
    Brave write up indeed.

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    1. Sounds like a very late diagnosis. And yes, it does destroy a person from within

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  12. Yes, TB is a silent killer and a tough one to eradicate too. While working in Cipla in the 90s, I had met a lot of Physicians and Chest Specialists for market research and the general opinion at that time was that the tuberculosis burden being high an aggressive approach was needed to tackle it. I am shocked that the situation hasnt improved in the last 20 years!!

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    1. An aggressive approach is a must but sadly noone seems interested in it. Tiresome watching this apathy and knowing the consequences

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  13. 20 lakh cases every year! That's a huge number, and definitely a serious issue. Thank you for writing about it.

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    1. It is huge. Which is why it is sad that noone cares

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  14. This happens many times that we want to make the world aware of a specific disease that the ways to control it. But often nobody is interested until, God forbid, their own known suffers. I am totally with you in forwarding this blog as far as possible.

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    1. Thanks. It matters in today's world that awareness is spread

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  15. Wow! Didn't know these facts! Everytime Amitabh Bacchan came on TV talking about fighting TB, I just thought it happens to others, but you have woken me up from my slumber

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    1. No. TB can affect everyone... a third of all Indians have it already sitting inside them as we write this down

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  16. TB is truly a terrorist. Valuable post, Roshan. Sadly, the diagnosis is not always timely and doctors tend to just manage the symptoms. I remember my Mom was diagnosed at least two months after she started showing the symptoms and that was shocking as she was consulting one of the best chest specialists here. Even worse, the medication, once prescribed, was not managed properly and stopped before it should have been, and then, the doctor did not realize that the TB had spread to her spine (Potts). Through all this, we had absolutely no advice or tips on how to manage her daily routine and depended on Dr.Google. :-) Sometimes, some people pick up the infection waiting around in doctors' clinics. So sad. Apparently a clinical examination alone can help spot symptoms.

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  17. I had no idea this was happening. Frightening.

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  18. Roshan, you have well aware us of this monster TB, hope things get right with more enforcement to eradicate this .

    Cheers
    MeenalSonal from AuraOfThoughts

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