As a run-up to World Tuberculosis Day, Survivors Against TB (SATB) launched Nine Lives – Women and Tuberculosis in India. In this book, those who have fought and survived TB have given their first-hand accounts.
The book was launched as part of SATB’s on-going campaign to bring more attention towards patient-centric TB care and support in India.
The society in which they live treats them no different from their male counterparts, not seeing that they are subjected to extra burden and restrictions. Beyond the physical suffering, TB has enormous mental, social, and economic consequences, which remain ignored.
“When we began documenting these stories, we wanted to record the journeys of women surviving TB in a patriarchal society where they often have limited access to health services and little scope to negotiate their own well-being,” said Zarah Udwadia, one of the authors of the book.
Chapal Mehra, other author of the book said stigma, fear and discrimination is common with patients being infected with TB.
“Even when cured, they are told never to talk of TB again, as if it was their fault,” said Mehra.
These stories have been put together in an attempt to help people understand the numerous challenges that these women and their families face to defeat TB.
The volume ends with a set of recommendations that have been put together with inputs from women survivors, experts and programme planners. The intention in doing so is to provide a roadmap to make TB services and the health system more responsive to gender specific needs.
“Hopefully, these stories will spur decision makers to act on these recommendations. There is an increased need to recognise that the way women experience, live and fight TB or any other disease is different, and our society and health system needs to respond to them more sensitively,” said Deepti Chavan, an MDR TB survivor, featured in the book.