Nagpur: Fear of discrimination or ‘social boycott’ has hitherto kept the persons affected by tuberculosis (TB) aloof resulting in delay in the treatment. This stigma around TB can also make people reluctant to stick with their course of treatment for fear of being ‘found out’. The social stigma has been recognized within the TB community as a fence to hide the disease over the years. TB stigma is driven by a range of factors, from fear of infection to the belief that the disease is associated with witchcraft.
However, the dreadful picture is now changing for better. The increase in the number of TB patients in the city shows that people are willing to come out of their closet leaving the fear of social stigma behind, thanks to Nagpur Municipals Corporation’s efforts of creating awareness on this front.
The District Tuberculosis Centre (DTC) data revealed that in the year 2017, 2481 patients from public health sector and 2886 from private health sector enrolled their TB status with NMC. However, the three quarters of 2018 registered 2075 TB patients from public sector and 2935 patients from private sector with NMC. The figures point out that the patients tend to lean towards private sector more and used to remain hidden from the government.
The private practitioners are required to send the details of every TB patient to the health office of the NMC. The increased numbers indicate the people are willing to confront their TB leaving social stigma behind. The government had already made various other provisions for providing incentives to the patients along with doctors who treat TB patients in private as well the pharmacies who sell medicines.
By October 2018, out of total 5194 patients enrolled with NMC, 2572 were from private health care whereas 2622 were from public and out of 7194 patients from the district, 2983 patients were from private and 4211 from public health care.
While discussing the significance of awareness while curing any disease, Dr K B Tumane, DTO, Nagpur city, told Nagpur Today that “Stigma has long been recognized within the tuberculosis (TB) community as a barrier to ending the disease. It is a complex and challenging issue involving institutions, communities, and societal attitudes. The global TB and HIV epidemics are both worsened by stigma, provoked by their association with poverty, social marginalization, and the risk of transmission.”
“Patients do not realize the importance of the offered drug regimen and they stop taking medicines when they start feeling better. This leads to resistance of the medicines or Multi-Drug Resistance TB (MDR). At most, 40% are only cured in such cases, hence people need to educate about the follow up of the prescribed drug regimen, ill effects of MDR TB as MDR patient can transmit the disease directly and hence there is a need for following proper coughing and sneezing equities i.e. coughing in fist and using handkerchief,” he said
By Shubham Nagdeve