June 25th started just as any other Tuesday working at the office when suddenly, Manju Bajiya, the Deputy Director at Operation ASHA, told us she arranged a trip for us to visit and experience the work done at a Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course (DOTS) center. We traveled with Asha Negi, the Senior Program Manager at Operation ASHA who manages the entire Delhi operations, to the Asha Clinic in Tekhand, South Delhi. Not long after our arrival, the first patient, a 22 year-old woman named Sunny, arrived with her two children to pick up medication.
Shortly after the first patient, an 18 year-old woman named Neetu, arrived to receive her treatment. After we saw her take her medication at the center, the provider proudly shared with us that she has never missed a dose, showing us the tracking system and an electronic calendar to confirm it. Later, a 22 year-old male patient named Ashish came to the center to be enrolled and start his treatment course right away.
Asha introduced Ashish to the eCompliance system with eCounseling, informative videos which showed the timeline and precautions to take when being treated for tuberculosis (TB). These videos did not have any text or dialogue, as Operation ASHA has considered that some potential patients may not be literate. After all his questions were answered, he was given medication for his treatment at the center and additional pills to take home for later days. We were able to experience first-hand the effectiveness of Operation ASHA’s work and commitment to deliver accessible treatment when we saw his enthusiasm as he was about to start treatment. He was grateful with Operation ASHA for having a convenient location and not having to go out of his way to receive treatment.
After ensuring that the new patient was properly enrolled, counseled, and provided with medication, Asha and Bhuvaneshwari, the provider who distributes medication to patients, led us through the community to find more patients. Before we looked for new patients, we visited the house of a current patient only to discover her symptoms were gone and she was feeling well. Then, We were able to see Asha use eDetection to find more people that were potentially suffering from tuberculosis. She found a couple who wanted to be tested for TB, so Asha informed them that first they could answer the questions through eDetection to see if they require proper testing or if they did have this disease. They agreed and according to their answers to the questionnaire, Asha told them they should not worry because they did not present any of the symptoms.
We were able to see and be part of Operation ASHA’s mission to provide quality TB treatment at convenient locations. More than just giving out medication for this disease, we saw how Operation ASHA strives for compassion and cares deeply about the well-being of every individual patient. This organization showed us how important it is to not only provide treatment, but also follow-up with patients, creating a community of support which improves patient retention and number of people cured. We are grateful to have this opportunity and witness Operation ASHA’s impact in real time.
-Daniela Limbania and Jennifer Duan