“When my husband got Tuberculosis, I had no idea what it was”

“When my husband got Tuberculosis, I had no idea what it was”

“When my husband got Tuberculosis, I had no idea what it was. My husband was an alcoholic and wasn’t concerned about me and our family. He didn’t take his medicines regularly. During the time of Chennai floods, I got a call from the DMC that my husband wasn’t taking regular treatment. I tried to convince him but eventually gave up. I was working as a house maid at that time. Someone from REACH came to visit us to follow-up on my husband’s treatment. During one of the visits, he told my mother that they were looking for a volunteer to work with REACH. My mother referred me as I have seen the disease up close.

On my mother’s advice, I started volunteering for Axshya Samvad, where volunteers go door-to-door to spread TB awareness. Initially, I was apprehensive about my work because of the stigma attached to it and the fear of catching the infection. But after I started working, I attended a session by REACH, which made me feel confident about my work as I gained more knowledge about the disease and how it could be prevented. I saw a different world altogether. I saw how patients failing to take treatment could become drug resistant. I was uncomfortable with the thought that patients working in the public sector and dealing with people every day who weren’t taking their medicines posed a huge threat to the society and could spread the disease easily. I was determined to change the scenario. Before working with REACH, I never went out of my colony without my father or husband accompanying me. Now, I travel to far off areas for door-to-door screening. Now, I transport sputum as well.

I have a lot of respect in my society where people call me doctor’. I get calls from unknown people asking me for guidance on TB. It makes me very proud of myself.”

community engagement story 2.1.JPGI feel very happy and satisfied. My biggest happiness is that inspired by my work, my husband started taking medicines regularly and is only left with one more month of treatment. I have identified three patients through my work with Axshya Samvad. I have in-depth knowledge of Tuberculosis and am confident that I can counsel patients. I have a lot of respect in my society where people call me ‘doctor’. I get calls from unknown people asking me for guidance on TB. It makes me very proud of myself.” – Saroja, Volunteer

Ms. Saroja is a homemaker and an active volunteer with Project Axshya. This story is part of our series called Voices of TB Heroesthat features TB survivors and community volunteers whove impacted the lives of those affected by TB

 According to the Global TB Report for 2016 that was released last month, India continues to bear the worlds highest burden of TB, with 2.8 million people affected by the disease last year. Despite being curable, TB kills over 1000 people every day in India.

At the heart of Indias battle against TB are those directly affected by the disease. It is their stories that we need to hear, their struggles and battles we need to support and their victories we must celebrate. Please read and share these stories widely.


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