Common TB myths must be broken

Mar 24, 2014, 07:48 IST | MiDDAY Correspondent

As we mark World Tuberculois day today, it is time for some hard introspection

As we mark World Tuberculois day today, it is time for some hard introspection.

Each year, the world marks World TB Day on March 24. This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB).

We have to seize the day and the moment to raise more awareness about TB-related problems and solutions. While great strides have been made to control and cure TB, people still get sick and die from this disease. It is still a huge killer to point out how much more needs to be done for complete TB elimination. With awareness, it is also important that we break some common myths associated with TB. In our older movies for instance, actors were often seen coughing hysterically and then came the grave pronouncement that he or she was afflicted with TB. Coughing is not the only symptom one should associate TB with.

It is not just people of a particular class but simply anybody can get TB and it is still a life-threatening problem.

Misdiagnosis of TB is still prevalent, though of course, huge steps have been taken in this aspect and we continue to make progress against TB. What TB and other lung diseases need in this day and age where celebrities are associated with each and everything, is a glamour aspect which would ensure greater visibility. While it may seem incongruous to attach a ‘glamour’ quotient to a disease, there is no doubt that it brings more awareness about the disease.

Take for instance, something like cancer or HIV/AIDS. Awareness is huge, though, of course there are misconceptions associated with both which still need to be tackled. Yet, the number of celebrities associated with both, ensures that they are in the news and they have a considerable amount of visibility — both locally, nationally and globally. A lung specialist once smiled and said only half in jest, that in today’s world where attention spans are short, catching the eyeball is everything.

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