Heroic foot soldiers
An important role is played by those Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS) providers who are companions to the TB patients on their route to recovery. Our country has many such foot soldiers who are fighting the battle against TB. One such soldier is Meenakshi Sundaram from Madurai. He lost an arm and a leg in an accident, but now has found a new purpose in life. He rides on his cycle and delivers door-to-door medicine to TB patients in a vicinity of 7km.
There are many such DOTS providers working across the country. Although some patients give up on taking medicine, these warriors do not. "When patients start feeling better, they stop taking medicines, but I go to their homes and make them have it," says Shahul Hamid from Chennai. They are also careful enough to maintain the anonymity of the patients. "Some say they won't come to the hospital, so I go wherever they want me to come—even to a bus stop," says Bani Kundu, a DOTS worker from Bankura, West Bengal.
"We look after our patients just the way we look after our children," says Paramjeet Kaur from Chandigarh. While some see the TB patients as their own, others treat their job as voluntary service. Mrs Thirubhavati from Chennai is a volunteer at heart. "I didn't even know the government pays for this, I do it just for the good of others."
The spirit of these relentless soldiers is commendable.