This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by JEET. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

On World TB Day, Read How Rima Overcame Her TB Through Medication And Counselling

More from JEET

One of world’s top ten causes of death, tuberculosis (TB) continues to remain one of the most infectious health hazards worldwide. Killing an estimated 1.4 million people in 2019, TB has emerged as a serious public health threat, impacting countries economically and socially. With over 2.7 million affected every year, India is home to the highest number of TB cases in the world. In 2019, over 400,000 people died of TB in India. In fact, everyday, 1,400 Indians die of TB — that means one preventable TB death every minute.

TB also has a tremendous social and economic impact that cannot be ignored. Every year, India suffers a staggering economic burden of USD 24 billion on account of TB, pushing many families into poverty. Stigma and discrimination are some of the many facets of TB.

On top of this, the emergence of Covid-19 aggravated the situation. With all healthcare resources being allocated to Covid-19 services, TB care took a back seat. In fact, India saw a 60% decline in TB notifications, widening the gap in ‘missing’ cases.

This is a story of a TB survivor from Kolkata, India, a journey of fighting and defeating TB. She experienced the side-effects of TB medication, difficulties of undergoing treatment, the mental and psychological impact, and what she plans to do now.

PC: Project JEET/ Rima Mondol, 19, TB survivors, Kolkata, India

Rima, Kolkata

A student of Journalism and Mass Communication, 19-year-old Rima is a bright and passionate young woman. In early 2019, she began experiencing persistent fever, nausea, uneasiness and swelling in the neck. A week later, her parents took her to a local ear nose throat (ENT) specialist, who prescribed a symptomatic treatment to her. However, her symptoms only worsened.

Rima decided to seek a second opinion and visited another ENT specialist who prescribed some more tests and medicines. However, two weeks later and with no respite in sight, Rima’s father decided to visit their family doctor at Peerless Hospital. Dr Chandramouli Bhattacharya conducted multiple investigations including testing the swelling in the neck region by Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC). It confirmed TB of the lymph node.

The news of the diagnosis was not easy to deal with, both for Rima and her family. “I thought why this had happened to me… I wondered about my friends and their reaction to my disease. I thought they all would abandon me now and that I would never be ‘normal’ again.” Stigma is a social side-effect of TB, taking twice the toll on women than men. Every year, many TB affected families are driven into isolation, often leading to loss of livelihoods and abandonment. What does that mean? That stigma and impact on general health among affected children and adolescents can increase dropout rates from schools and colleges, leading to interrupted education.

As if this wasn’t enough, Rima’s TB treatment was also fraught with side-effects, including red-coloured urine, vomiting, vertigo, drowsiness, weakness and numbness in limbs. She lost her appetite, which made her weak and feeble. Then there was the mental agony that she had to deal with. She used to cry for prolonged periods of time. Rima spiralled into depression.

Bottles of patient samples in a laboratory at the National Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases, New Delhi. December 2017. Photo credit: FIND / Ben Phillips

It was at this time that the treatment coordinator from JEET, on Dr Chandramouli’s behest, reached out to Rima’s family. Ms Jayanti Mandal counselled and encouraged Rima to share the news of her diagnosis with her friends and extended family. When Rima reluctantly shared the news, she was pleasantly surprised to find that everyone accepted her and her diagnosis with open arms. She heaved a sigh of relief.

The side-effects exhausted Rima. Thankfully, both her family and Jayanti helped her in coping. For instance, her mother encouraged Rima to establish contact with her friends and take up painting again. Jayanti provided support in helping her get back on her feet by taking small steps everyday. And slowly, with the help of a balanced diet and support from her family, along with regular treatment, Rima began her journey towards recovery.

In fact, all her family members were also screened for TB. Thankfully, all tested negative. With the help of Jayanti, Rima also enrolled herself in Nikshay Poshan Yojana — a Government of India initiative to provide Rs 500 to every TB patient in the public sector to support their nutritional needs.

Today, Rima has recovered completely. Now, she wants to spread awareness on TB and encourage families to support TB patients and not shun them. “People will take treatment and get cured. But it is the care and love from families and friends that is critical in recovery for any patient. I believe that my degree in Mass Communication will help me in reaching out and talking to people with the purpose to spread awareness on TB.”


This is one story out of a million. This World TB Day (March 24) has provided a window of opportunity to mobilise social and political commitment as well as accelerated progress to end TB. The theme for 2021 is ‘Clock is Ticking’, which underscores the urgency with which India needs to address TB. Not only the political leadership, but we as citizens have a huge role to play in making India TB-free by 2025. The urgent need of the hour is awareness, which is only possible through conversations.

Start a campaign in your schools, colleges and neighbourhoods, and talk about TB, its prevention, cure and impact. Educational interventions maybe necessary including efforts to reduce stigma, address social isolation and minimise unnecessary exclusion from school. Peer support groups that help adolescents with HIV to remain engaged with care may be beneficial, alongside psychosocial support and options for confidential consultation.

While we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Let’s make India TB free by 2025. TB Haarega, Desh Jeetega!

All images are representational.
You must be to comment.

More from JEET

Similar Posts

By Nandini Agarwal

By YuWaah India

By Priya Prakash

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below