A war against tuberculosis
After the Satyamev Jayate episode on Tuberculosis was telecast, residents of Sewri Cross Road in central Mumbai have been getting lessons on hygiene and nutritious diets when they visit the local mosques for their daily namaz. Such messages have been reinforced by maulanas who urge devotees to maintain a clean surrounding, eat healthy and take their medicines religiously.
Abdul Gani, a local garment manufacturer and social worker, can feel the change around him. For the last four years, Gani has been ensuring that unclaimed bodies of patients from the Group of TB Hospitals, Sewri, get a dignified burial. “I got no support or understanding from the community in these years,” he says. “But the show brought the dangers of TB to the forefront. The community woke up and decided it was time to launch a war on the disease,” says Gani who also distributes small video clips of the episode via WhatsApp within the community. He has also put up banners with images from the show along with key messages of TB prevention which are displayed outside the mosques and community meeting points.
Dr Lalit Kumar Anande, Chief Medical Officer of the Group of TB Hospitals and a guest on the show, also believes there has been a significant attitudinal change. “There is greater awareness among those suffering from TB regarding what they should do to improve their health. I’ve been invited to give awareness talks in various communities including slums and schools. There is also a spurt in patients asking if they are getting correct treatment and also questions regarding MDR TB which they knew nothing about earlier. The way Aamir Khan explained TB, no one has ever done before.
The response from communities in areas like Kurla, Mankhurd and Govandi which are TB hotspots and home to some of Mumbai's biggest slums has been very encouraging. Many maulanas from these areas called me the very evening that the episode was telecast and said that they too wanted to do something for the residents of their areas.”
“The episode made us aware of just how urgently we need to address the TB threat,” said a maulana from Kurla who did not wish to be identified. “And we did not have to look far because the Quran itself talks about the role of diet and hygiene. It says eat breakfast like a king but most people don't even eat that first meal so in our sermons we urge mothers and fathers to pay attention to their diet. The show helped us realize a key message—saath jiyenge ya saath marenge (We either sail or sink together).”
To know how you can get involved in the efforts to combat TB, you can email Dr Lalit Kumar Anande at and also read NGO Operation ASHA’s suggestions here.