“There is nothing more precious in this world than taking care of your children and spending quality time with them,” says 25 year old Hanif Shaikh, a TB patient. He is currently undergoing the treatment at Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organisation who since 2006 provides free diagnosis, treatment and support to patients with drug-resistant TB in Mumbai.
Shaikh was diagnosed with TB in 2014; initially he underwent treatment at three different clinics. Hanif lives with his wife, mother, and two children, in Govandi, Mumbai. It’s an overcrowded slum where TB bacteria are easily transmitted due to the high population density and poor housing and environmental conditions. He had to give up his job of salesman in a shoe shop when his health stared deteriorating.
“Shaikh is one of the drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) patients. It’s been a more than a year since he was being treated at MSF using a combination of delamanid and bedaquiline along with other drugs,” said Dr Pramila Singh, Clinic Manager at MSF.
“Shaikh’s response with the treatment is commendable. His medical examinations are showing promising results, it is because of his spirit and never give up attitude. His family is also extensively supportive. However, he will need to continue taking his TB medication for twenty months more until he is fully cured,”
“It was a very difficult time for me and my family. I often used to get angry and keep shouting at everyone. I was constantly coughing, unable to eat or sleep. I just kept running from one doctor to another, but there was no positive output. There was a time when I lost all hope, but my mother and wife did not. I could not even go close to my kids, which was more painful for me” said Shaikh.
During that difficult period it was a Shaikh’s mother, Hasina Shaikh who devoted each and every second of her life aiming to make her son free from illness. His mother who works as a domestic help, stood like a strong pillar to support him financially and emotionally.
“I tried every possible way to treat him, but there was no other way out. But I choose not to give up so easily, I was very hopeful that will get my healthy and happy son back,” said Shaikh’s mother.
“When his treatment started at MSF in 2016 we could see lots of difference in his health and behaviour. He start eating well, his coughed had stopped, his breathlessness also decreased. It was a big relief for me,” said Shaikh’s mother.
Speaking about his hardships Shaikh says he missed some of the dosages due to lack of money.
“I treated myself at different clinics one of them was a charitable trust, when trust used to run out of money, I had to spend from my pocket and that was not possible as there was no other income source. So, I used to miss some of my dosages,” said Shaikh.
Shaikh is living more enthusiastic and positive life now. After taking a break from his job, Shaikh has started living a normal life. He has returned to his job of a salesman at a shoe shop. He wishes to run his own small business in the future.
“I feel full of life now. I am back to my work, earning well not just to survive but to give a better life to my family. I would just say one thing any kind of deadly disease like TB will not dare to put an end to your life, without your will. So, make your will as strong as possible to defeat such a disease,” advised Shaikh.