AGE: 17 years
FAMILY HISTORY OF TUBERCULOSIS: His brother suffered from tuberculosis
TYPE OF TUBERCULOSIS: Positive (contagious)
TUBERCULOSIS STAGE: CAT I, Intensive phase
When I first met Krishna, a 17 year old boy who suffers from tuberculosis, he tells me that it has been hard to live a normal and happy life. He looks frail, his chest bones are very prominent and he has deep sunken eyes. Those who know him tell me there is a big difference in his physical appearance from before he got tuberculosis and now. Since being diagnosed with the disease, his friends have completely isolated him and refuse to be near him, talk to him, or offer him their support.
Unfortunately, the stigma attached to tuberculosis is very common in India. When I talk to Krishna, however, I realise how wrong this isolation of tuberculosis sufferers is. Krishna is just another teen who is unfortunate enough to suffer from a disease like tuberculosis. Instead of isolating him, his friends should be there with him every step of the way. Due to this isolation, Krishna has stopped studying, his grades have dropped, and he cannot concentrate on anything for long. Put yourself in Krishna’s place and imagine how it would feel to suffer from tuberculosis and the resulting isolation from your friends. It would be heart-wrenching.
People have a false illusion that boys are strong; they can do anything and need no one. When I met Krishna, I saw the opposite. He says he wants to be with his friends and, for the first time in his life, he feels that he has no one to turn to for help.
All over the world, approximately 1 million children like Krishna suffer from tuberculosis. Is it right to seclude these children at a time when they need the support of friends and family?
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”
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Written by: Karmishtha Seth