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Despite being a dim memory in some parts of the world, TB grinds on in many low and middle income countries

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l7050 (Published 30 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l7050
  1. Swati Sanyal Tarafdar
  1. Hyderabad, India
  1. sanyal.swati{at}gmail.com

Tuberculosis is the world’s number one infectious killer. The recently concluded World Conference on Lung Health offered treatment and prevention options that may someday bring the numbers down, Swati Sanyal Tarafdar found

A few weeks after being selected as a postdoctoral research fellow at an Indian engineering college, Diptendu Bhattacharya started coughing bloody sputum. He passed it off as a regular cough, until his peers threatened to throw him out of the hostel if he didn’t see a doctor. The first physician he met with, on the outskirts of Kolkata, gave him routine flu medication.

But the cough continued. A diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) took seven months and three doctors and, even then, proper treatment was slow in coming. Without access to the cartridge based nucleic acid amplification test—which could have confirmed his resistance to the usual TB antibiotics and determined those that were most tolerable—Bhattacharya experienced vomiting and pain.

Once a promising student, he had to give up his doctoral work because his diagnosis and recovery took so long. “We need better infrastructure for preventive therapy and treatment,” he told The BMJ. “It’s extremely difficult to travel all that distance to the designated, government run TB hospitals for treatment when you are sick and suffering the side effects of the drugs, which is why many drop out of treatment.”

There’s a lack of attention to …

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