4 Survivors Share Stories Of Living Through The Horror That Is Tuberculosis

Posted on September 7, 2016 in Health and Life, PhotoNama

By Chapal Mehra:

Tuberculosis (TB ) is one of India’s severest health crises killing over a 1000 Indians every day. Over the last several years, that I have worked on TB I was struck how rarely we hear from those most affected by TB-namely patients and their families. How can the survivors of India’s severest health crisis be faceless and voiceless?

With this in mind, I started the recording of the stories of TB survivors where they narrate their stories. This photo essay is drawn from a collection of such stories of TB. These pictures tell us about individuals and the social, economic and cultural circumstances in which they address TB. They show the grit, determination and triumph of their spirit in the battle against TB. They also provide critical information on how TB affected interactions with doctors, health systems, in families and communities.

TB is a man made crisis -neglected by the government and exploited by the private sector. Recent reports of drug sales indicate that the TB burden may be double of what is projected. If this is not a humanitarian crisis-what is? How did India create this crisis and ignore it for so long? These stories tell us a lot of these reasons and represent a charter of demands from TB affected. It is now incumbent on all of us to listen.

This photo story was supported by The Lily MDR TB Foundation.

Nur Jahan, MDR TB Survivor
“Sometimes, my whole body would break into small rashes and my stomach would burn for months. Yet I ate this medicine. I remembered that my child would be motherless if I stopped this treatment. Who would care for her?” 
– Nur Jahan, MDR TB Survivor, Katwa, West Bengal.
Photo by: Rohit Saha

Nur Jahan, MDR TB Survivor

“I thought six months of treatment was the end of TB. Nobody tells you it can happen again and again.”
Photo by: Rohit Saha

TB photo story 3

“I didn’t even realize the severity of the disease. I thought if I take medicines for few months and it will eventually go away.” – Deepti Chavan, TB Survivor and Patient Advocate.
Photos by: Somya Parikh

TB photo story 4

“I could have accepted what the doctors told me and lived with my family for 6 month and accepted death. However, I genuinely believed I had the right to live or fight for it .”

TB photo story 5

“I began to understand how my life would begin to change, but nothing prepared me for this,” -Mala, 28, Waste Picker, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Photo by: Dinesh Abirami

TB photo story 6

“The hospital was far and the cost of travel expensive. The doctor treated us like beggars. We were made to wait endlessly and the doctor would speak to us rudely. Why go there if they treat you so badly?”
Photo by: Somya Parikh

TB photo story 7

“I felt like my body was on fire. I would get up in the middle of the night unable to sleep. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep for days. It was unbearable.”– Owais, XDR TB Survivor, Tailor, Mumbai
Photo by: Somya Parikh

TB photo story 8

“I cannot do anything but I am alive. It’s the kindness and the generosity of my brothers that has kept us alive.”