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“My husband was a drug addict and an alcoholic. When he got TB, Suganya from REACH contacted me for getting tested. My children and I were taken for a screening test and X-ray and my younger child was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. Had Suganya not intervened, I wouldn’t have taken the issue seriously as I did not know that TB could have infected my family. My younger child has completed treatment but my older one was diagnosed recently and is on treatment.

My husband had all the bad habits, which made him prone to diseases like TB. When he couldn’t walk due to TB, I used to go to the center to fetch medicines but he would refuse to take them. It has been six months since my husband died.

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I was already prepared for his death as doctors had told us that chances of his survival were grim. It has been difficult on me but life has been going on and I am managing. I feel bad that amidst all of this, my children were infected. From my experience, every patient should make sure they don’t spread TB within family. They should follow cough hygiene and take medicines regularly. If my husband had taken care of these things, my children wouldn’t have had TB.

I find it very difficult to tell my children that their father has died so I lie to them that he has gone abroad. Whenever my younger one sees a plane, he points towards it and says, ‘look, there goes daddy!’ My older child also asks me but I have no answer. He was just 25. That’s not an age to go. I am only 24 and I have been left alone to face the world. I am going to tell my children alcohol is not good for health. If given a chance, I would like to volunteer and help other people so that nobody has to go through what I suffered.” – Muneera


Ms Muneera is employed as a domestic worker in North Chennai. This story is the launch of a new series called ‘Voices of TB Heroes’ that features TB survivors and community volunteers who’ve impacted the lives of those affected by TB.  

According to the Global TB Report for 2016 that was released last month, India continues to bear the world’s highest burden of TB, with 2.8 million people affected by the disease last year. Despite being curable, TB kills over 1000 people every day in India. 

At the heart of India’s battle against TB are those directly affected by the disease. It is their stories that we need to hear, their struggles and battles we need to support and their victories we must celebrate. Please read and share these stories widely. 

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