“Only if you give me medicines, I will swallow it” said Raja*, visibly shaken with tears flowing down his cheeks. I met him recently after a gap of six years to initiate DOTS again.

Back in 2009, Raja, a successful businessman was diagnosed with TB and completed his treatment by taking medicines regularly. He was at the PPM centre every alternate day and after six months of treatment he was cured of TB.

But, the following year he had a relapse. On probing, his wife told me that Raja was upset after their only son left the house. Unable to bear the separation he started drinking. His immune system weakened and his health deteriorated further. He visited a private doctor in 2010 and was again started on DOTS. He was irregular in taking medicines which worsened his health condition.

Raja decided to visit a pharmacy after he coughed out blood. The proprietor was aware of the symptoms of TB and immediately referred him to our PPM centre. I requested him to undergo tests and he was diagnosed with MDR-TB. Unwilling to accept, Raja argued and it took a while for me to make him understand and instill faith and confidence in him. I explained the whole DOTS-Plus regimen and started the treatment.

It has been three months now and Raja’s health has improved. Having found employment in Sugam Hospital( our PPM centre functions from the same premises) he visits me often and inquires about my well-being. He regularly gets his injection from his favourite nurse and on DOTS days he interacts with other TB patients. He shares his own life story and motivates them to take medicines regularly and consume nutritious food.

I think Raja is a lucky man. At 53, after undergoing a lot of pain he is recovering and I think he is a real fighter.

As narrated by Shanti, Zone Coordinator, REACH

*named changed to protect identity.