Until two months ago, Rafiq Shaikh, 22, (name changed) a multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patient, would go to the Rangoonwala Trust’s community centre in Jogeshwari (E) for a glass of milk and egg every day.
“I could not afford milk and eggs. But the social workers insisted that I have them so that my body can take the TB medication. They also advised me to avoid spicy, or fried food. I followed their instructions and I am better now,” said the zari worker, who completed his TB medication course two months ago.
While the Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) programme is primarily run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), 15 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as the Rangoonwala Trust, Navnirman Samaj Vikas Kendra and Maharashtra Jan Vikas Manch work with civic officials to help identify patients, administer medication, follow-up, and provide counselling and nutrition supplements.
“Eradication of TB cannot be tackled by just one agency. NGOs are an integral part of our TB programme and work on different schemes. They help in awareness, collection of sputum and go looking for patients who default on treatment,” said Dr Padmaja Keskar, joint executive health officer, TB division, BMC.
At the DOTS centre in Dharavi, several patients come for their medication in the evening after the BMC health posts have shut for the day. “Patients may not always find the time to come for their medicine during the day so we started evening centres in Dharavi. We work with the civic officials to make diagnosis and treatment convenient for the patients,” said Leslie D’lima, trustee and director of Maharashtra Jan Vikas Manch, which also runs sputum collection centres across the city.
Tuberculosis treatment with its side effects can incapacitate a patient from continuing their work. Many of these patients are sole earning members of their families. “We understand that TB can debilitate a family. We provide economic support to patients in need. We also provide scholarships for students in the family to ensure that they continue their studies,” said Mahesh Rajguru, health coordinator, Rangoonwala Trust.