PM Modi, Forget Bullet Trains, Help Fight TB Instead: Dr Udwadia

“Tuberculosis is Ebola with wings. It does not differentiate between the driver in the front of the Mercedes to the CEO in the back or between the maid in the kitchen and the memsahib in the living room. It kills an Indian every minute.”

As a lead up to World Tuberculosis Day, TED has released India’s first Ted Talk on TB by Zarir F Udwadia, a leading chest physician from Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai.

He highlights India’s TB problem, which persists in epidemic proportions, terming it the country’s biggest public health issue.

Also Read: Stigma, Guilt, Delayed Diagnosis: A TB Survivor’s Painful Battle

This claim is borne by statistics as India houses the largest number of TB patients in the world and has the most TB deaths globally.

It kills one Indian every minute, a statistic unchanged over the decades. TB costs India USD 24 billion annually.

Giving the issue perspective, he mentioned how Ebola got all the needed attention and yet, in the time it took to kill 11,000 people, TB killed 2.1 million.

Using Salma’s story – one of his earliest Totally Drug Resistant (TDR) TB cases – Dr Udwadia illustrates the numerous challenges patients face in fighting TB in India.

He uses the talk to remind everyone that TB remains neglected and ignored in the country.

He outlines what India desperately needs to do address TB:

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. Give us social change, because TB is the perfect expression of an imperfect civilisation.