Why TB?

To develop a local, deep, low cost and high impact pipeline, OpASHA’s founders, Sandeep Ahuja and Dr. Shelly Batra, decided to start with providing treatment for one disease. They evaluated several different public health issues in India including AIDS/HIV, malaria and sanitation before focusing on tuberculosis. TB affects more people in India than any other disease, but receives fewer resources for treatment and awareness than AIDS/HIV.

A person dies of Tuberculosis (TB) every 20 seconds. They are mostly poor. Nobel Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu succinctly states, “TB is the child of poverty, and also its parent and provider”. Even in developed countries, where TB had been nearly eradicated, it has come back with a vengeance. The bacteria is mutating into untreatable forms like TDR/ XXDR as a result of failure of Public Health programs, indiscriminate use of antibiotics, inaccurate data and consequently poor policies and budgeting priorities. No wonder, TIME magazine (2013 March 4) stated recently that,

“We are on the brink of another epidemic, and it has no treatment. If TDR spreads, we will go back to the Dark Ages”.

TB is also a serious social-economic problem. World Economic Forum states, “nearly 1/3rd of over 11,000 (business leaders worldwide) expect TB to affect their business … serious(ly)”. In India alone, indirect economic loss is US$23bn annually. Not only that, 100,000 female patients are thrown out by families every year to die of disease and starvation. 300,000 youngsters join the rank of child labor annually mostly because a parent is suffering from TB, loses a job, and the child needs to support the family (Government of India). TB is undoubtedly the biggest health crisis in India, which is explained in the diagram below.