CHENNAI: A 39-year-old Shiva*, an autorickshaw driver, who was diagnosed with multi drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) prefers to talk over the phone to his relatives if there is any important message that needs to be conveyed to them, not because he could not go in person, but his relatives were not comfortable with his visit to their house, once they came to know about his condition.
Shiva (name changed) did prefer not to tell his friends or neighbours about his condition, because he feared that they would stop talking to him and he could not fight back discrimination.
“They treat me as if I am an untouchable person. I am aware I can spread the infection. Every time I talk to the people, I cover my mouth with a piece of cloth and stay at a distance and talk. Sometimes I get mentally affected to think about this. In my house also, I sleep in a separate room. I have a separate plate to eat food and a tumbler to drink water,” narrates Shiva, who is at present undergoing treatment at the Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine, Sanatorium.
But this is not an isolated case, finds a study conducted by the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis and Vector Control Research Centre, a research wing of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Birgham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.
According to the study, which was published very recently at PLoS ONE, a multidisciplinary magazine, there are limited treatment options, long duration of treatment and associated toxicity which adversely impact the physical and mental well-being of multi drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients.
Despite research advances in the microbiological and clinical aspects of MDR-TB, research on the psychosocial contact of the MDR-TB is limited and less understood, the study further notes.
A total of 282 published research articles were retrieved as part of the study.
The study concludes that as there is an urgent need for feasible, innovative psychosocial and economic intervention studies that help to equip MDR-TB patients sufficiently to cope with their illness, improve treatment adherence, treatment outcomes and the overall quality of life of MDR-TB patients.