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TB And Its Challenges: Perspectives on Resurgence, Control and Research

Posted on 13 March 2015

Report on a creative and productive day exploring the many challenges presented by tuberculosis now and in the past

Saturday 28th of February saw many individuals from different backgrounds and professions convene at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, along with a full house audience. They all had a common goal; a desire to lessen the suffering caused by tuberculosis (TB).

Beginning early in the morning with a full programme in prospect, the workshop was inaugurated by Prof. D.K. Tempe, Dean of Maulana Azad Medical College who encouraged participants to enjoy the workshop and spread the message of how to counter TB. The audience was then treated to a truly diverse lineup of panels and talks by high profile speakers including government officials, WHO officials, historians of medicine and senior scientists. The workshop aimed to explore tuberculosis in all its complexities, creating new dialogues in the process, at the same time promoting TB education and research, and advocating medical humanities as a subject in Medical Colleges of India.

The workshop commenced with short presentations by Representatives of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program, WHO Country Office for India, WHO SEARO, and the University of York, UK. Dr. Khurshid Hyder, Regional Advisor, WHO Regional Office SEARO, highlighted the importance of such discussion, pointing out that TB remains one of the major health concern in the South East Asia region. In his presentation, Dr Achuthan Nair noted that the past teaches us many things, but that many times we forget to learn from the past and our own failings. He pointed out that history teaches us it is impossible to address TB just as a biomedical issue. We are here for a simple purpose, saving lives.

During refreshment breaks the workshop participants were able to admire the Centre For Global Health Histories’ exhibition ‘Tuberculosis: A Short History’, which featured in a dedicated exhibition space and will now be loaned permanently to the Maulana Azad Medical College. The striking images of public health posters and photographs from the past contrasted wonderfully with a range of present-day materials which adorned the halls around the workshop, and provided a fitting backdrop and inspiration to the day’s discussions.

The workshop was the result of a fruitful collaboration between the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories and the Department of Community Medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College, generously supported by the Wellcome Trust. To this end, the workshop also ran in support of the activities of the WHO Global Health Histories project: its mission is based on the principle that understanding the history of health, especially during the last 60 years, helps the global public health community to respond to the challenges of today and help shape a healthier future for everyone, especially those most in need.

It is not an easy task to organise an international workshop with such a bulging programme and tight schedule, but the fruitful discussions were testament to the enthusiasm of all involved and the belief in the project. Wrapping up proceedings with co-organiser Professor Nandini Sharma (Director of the Department of Community Health at Maulana Azad Medical College), Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya of CGHH expressed his belief that the success of the workshop had presented the usefulness of interdisciplinary communication, learning from each other, as well as communicating with the general public on such important health topics. The proposal to organise many such events in the future met with enthusiastic approval from participants and audience members alike.


List of papers presented:

"Regional Overview: Progress and Challenges in TB Care and Control" Dr. Khurshid Hyder, Regional Advisor, WHO Regional Office SEARO

"Prospects for making non-invasive imaging accessible for use in assessing infectious diseases" Professor Gary Green, The Bio centre, University of York, UK

"The WHO and Antibiotic Resistance: Historical DOTS Trajectories", Professor Christoph Gradmann, Professor of History of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway

"Drug Resistance in TB: Scenario in India" Dr. Urvashi Singh Professor, Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences

"Adherence challenges for the urban poor: An exploratory study in Delhi" Professor Rajib Dasgupta, Center of Social Medicine & Community Health, JNU

"The Rise and Fall of India’s National Tuberculosis Programme, 1960-1993", Dr. Niels Brimnes, Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark

"Policy Innovations and Policy Pathways: The WHO and Tuberculosis Control in Sri Lanka, 1948-1972" Dr. Margaret Jones, Deputy Director of Centre for Global Health Histories, University of York, UK