Eliminating tuberculosis is a dream within reach – Commercial Appeal

Have you ever dreamed of being a force for good, so that you can impact the lives of future generations? The good may come from whatever work you do as a teacher, a factory worker, or an engineer. I believe we all can be such a force for good.

I know many who are doing it. Some do it by teaching or writing a book like my professor friend Mark Muesse. Some by developing state-of-the-art patents like my engineer uncle who had a heart bypass surgery and some by sharing innovative learned lessons like Madan Birla, a retired Fed-Ex manager.

In my work, I have a dream of making an impact too.

I dream about eliminating a disease — a disease that presents like a common cold, with fever and cough, and then never goes away. A disease that kills 2 million people; a disease that causes 10 million infections each year; a disease that we know how to prevent, how to diagnose and how to treat, and yet we fail to do it. It is a disease that has been nearly eradicated or well controlled in one half of the world, yet still kills in the other half.

So with my skills and knowledge in infectious diseases and public health, and from what I have learned from local health agencies like the Shelby County Health Department and national institutes like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I dream about eliminating, impacting and reducing the dreaded disease of tuberculosis.

I want to do this in the country and city where I was born over 50 years ago: Indore, India. Indore, in central India, is the nation’s 15th-largest city.

So for nearly a decade I have journeyed with my family each year to India, often during the holiday season, devoting two weeks to medical-charity work. As I write this column, I am flying again 40,000 feet high, crossing the continents.

In Indore, along with local health officials, the Rotary Clubs, the Lion’s Club and a nonprofit organization, we have created a public-private collaboration for elimination of TB (eliminatetb.in). We run a TB hotline for patients to make sure they take their medicine; we teach schoolchildren about the cough and low-grade fever of TB; we find cases of TB so that people who are carriers do not inadvertently spread the disease to their family and neighbors.

I am not alone in this dream to eliminate TB. The World Health Organization has launched a TB-Free campaign, the U.S. Agency for International Development is providing grants, the government of India has made eliminating TB a priority, and a number of international organizations such as the Gates Foundation are partnering in the effort. We in Memphis are helping too. The Rotary Club of Germantown has donated $10,000 to the cause.

So this year join me on my annual medical charity pilgrimage to my hometown 12,000 miles away. On Twitter (@MJainMD) and Facebook (facebook.com/MJainMDblog), I will share the challenges and successes of working hand in hand with public health teams, and foot-doctors in the slums and city roads of Indore. It is a journey that I started in earnest five years ago, and hope to continue for decades to come.

Eliminating a disease is a daunting, but achievable, task. We have eliminated diseases before, so as to make future generations safer. Today, we no longer fear smallpox or polio in any part of the world. We live without concern of malaria or Ebola in our part of the world. We can treat some diseases so well that I tell my HIV patients they need to fear their hypertension and diabetes more than their HIV.

So for my force for good to make an impact, I have chosen one disease in one location. If I am not successful in my mission, I will still be content. I will have instilled these values in my three children who fly with me. And one day they may model me in their own future professions, and hopefully they will come back to their home city of Memphis and be a force for good.

Source : Commercial Appeal

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