A case of mistaken Identity

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Deena and I were sitting at her table completing paper work after the morning rush of patients had left. An attendee from the hospital came into the room to clean it. She suddenly grunted at me in an irritated manner and told me to go sit outside. I was a bit stunned at the tone of her voice but thought nothing of it. Deena continued writing. I got up and stood in a corner of the room, to let her mop in peace. She suddenly looks at me again and says “For god sakes go and lie down on the bench outside”. Now I was totally confused, a little angry and a little nervous of this woman who was glaring at me. I stood there feeling like a 5 year old, who had done something wrong and dint know it. “She’s a staff from the main office” Deena says grinning.

I realised then the lady has mistaken me for a patient. She of course sweetened immediately, apologising and reassuringly asked me many questions of what I had come to do. TB patients are, from what I have seen at the bottom of the ladder. When they come to us they are sick, unable to work and often isolated by their families. They are sad and troubled and always ask “Why me? What did I do to get this disease? So if I was a patient sitting there, I might have not been surprised at all by the woman’s attitude. As someone that works in healthcare I have noticed that the proximity to the ability to heal, leaves most people with a power complex.

It gives doctors, nurses, trained health workers, health researchers, hospital attendees, and security guards – the ability to blame, judge and undermine the patient. It allows us to be critical of institutions, systems and people without being critical of where we fit into the machine, and what we do or do not do to remedy the things we complain of. I have to confess this is not the first time I was mistaken for a patient. The first time I was back at the desk; a patient sat beside me, rolling her eyes and laughed quietly, gesturing at the blister pack on the table thinking it was mine. She seemed to say “you have no idea what you’re getting into do you?” . At that time I remember being thrilled thinking, this was my “breakthrough” ethnographic moment.

Neha Lamech

Entering Living Rooms

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Realizing the influence and impact of the small screen on every household,  STOP TB Forums formed through the Project Axshya in Madurai District networked with a leading channel in Madurai, Lion Channel to  take the TB message to the threshold of every house.

The Stop TB Forum acquired permission to broadcast TB awareness videos created by REACH every two hours in between programs.  This is a classic example of involving the different stake holders of society in TB control.

Project Axshaya appreciates this act of social responsibility exhibited by Lion Channel and hope to take the TB message to more homes with the support of more such TV channels.

REACH Blog Team