Tuberculosis (TB) is India’s ticking time bomb, a leading Mumbai physician has warned while asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate steps to tackle the disease that kills one Indian every minute. “Forget your bullet trains PM Modi… Give us the new drugs we need to treat, give us the labs and tests to diagnose early, give us more funds not more cuts in the TB budget,’’ said Dr Zarir Udwadia, the physician, in a TED talk ahead of the World TB Day on March 24. “Give us social change, because TB is the perfect expression of an imperfect civilization.’’
Dr Udwadia called the disease an Ebola with wings. He cited the case of his Totally Drug Resistant (TDR) TB patient Salma to illustrate numerous challenges patients face in fighting the disease in India. Salma died after months of treatment. She traveled across two states, visited government TB clinics, several private physicians and received multiple drugs in various combinations. Salma was resistant to every drug and died four days after surgery. She suffered virtually untreatable form of TB, which costs India US $ 24 billion annually.
“What could be more soul destroying than taking five years of treatment but finding yourself getting worse not better? Drug resistant TB is a collective indictment of us all,’’ said Udwadia.