For decades, the country has been striving towards decreasing the burden of Tuberculosis (TB) on its population. The introduction of Directly Observed Treatment Strategy (DOTS) through the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) was expected to bring about a major change in controlling the disease. In spite of many efforts, the indicators of TB fail to impress. Failure of adherence to the DOTS program and discontinuation of the treatment is attributed as an important cause for the current state of the disease. Linda, a friend of ours describes her experience with Tuberculosis, DOTS program and importance of completing the treatment.
I was down with typhoid in March 2011. During that time I noticed a swelling below my jaw, towards the left side. The swelling did not subside even after a couple of weeks. It was diagnosed to be lymphocytes, that is TB of the lymph nodes. A particular physician advised me to get the lump removed surgically. In fact the surgery was fixed for the next day. Then the doctors at Institute of Public Health (IPH), Bangalore referred me to another doctor for second opinion. The second doctor advised me to start TB medicines under Government of India DOTS Program. So I went and got myself registered for the program in Primary Health Unit in Cox Town, Bangalore. The staff their immediately started me on medicines and assigned me to a Social Health worker close to my house. A box containing the medicines of my full course was given to the health worker. I had to go regularly to her and pick up my medicines. She wrote my name on the box and kept a complete record of the medicines issued.
Initially when started my medicines I started feeling very weak and had severe pain and tingling sensation all over the lower part of my body mostly my legs. The pain was so severe I could not even move about. The swelling also increased rapidly and I was losing weight rapidly. I was feeling really frustrated and depressed. The doctors at IPH counseled me regularly and encouraged me to continue the course. My husband and my son also were very supportive. After a couple of months the swelling started reducing. I started feeling normal and started gaining weight. I still have 5 more weeks of treatment. I feel perfectly normal and have no swelling at all.
I would like to stress that the Government DOTS Program is most effective. I would advise people with TB to go undergo Government DOTS Program and not to private practitioners. The quality of the medicines is excellent although it is completely free of cost. I would also like to add here that to bounce back to good health, one needs to complete the entire DOTS course.
- LINDA DANIEL