A few months ago, a woman died of Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (Mdr-TB) in Irumbanam in Thiruvankulam gramapanchayat, close on the heels of two deaths reported due the same disease earlier. A recent survey reveals that the family of a man diagnosed with TB was the carrier of the air-borne disease. Realising that many could be infected due to lack of awareness, the Ernakulam TB Centre will launch an action plan in Irumbanam with thrust on advocacy and awareness creation.
The lack of awareness is evident from the fact that most TB patients belong to the socially backward areas, said Rincy A U, senior treatment supervisor at the Ernakulam Taluk level.
“Migrant labourers and people struggling to earn a living are found to be suffering from TB. Awareness should be created at the grassroots level. If all goes as planned, the action plan can be launched within three weeks,” the official said.
Firstly, the councillors, ward members and, political and religious leaders will be given training.
The underprivileged people are scattered and many have to be roped in to create awareness on the disease,” she said.
The official said that many still believe that TB has been eradicated but it is not so.
“Many do not complete their course of treatment and approach us when they become very weak,” she said. They overlook the symptoms such as loss of appetite and weight, fatigue, fever, chills and night sweats.
“Nobody consults a doctor even when the cough deteriorates and leads to chronic illness. It is unfortunate that even three-month-olds are found to be carriers of TB,” she said.
Mdr TB deaths occur when the patient becomes resistant to isoniazid (INH) and rifampicin (RMP), the two most powerful first-line treatment anti-TB drugs. The duration of the first course of treatment is from six months to nine months.
As the second phase of the action plan, a comprehensive survey of the colonies in Irumbanam village will be done. “We will seek the help of students of MSW (Master of Social work )and NSS (National Service Scheme). “They will also help create awareness,” she said.
But the dearth of funds is an obstacle. “The TB centre has set aside some funds but the rest of the amount required for the implementation of the programme should be sourced from elsewhere.
It will be of immense help if the local bodies are willing to bear a portion of the expense,” she said.