World Tuberculosis (TB) Day Recognized with Community Event at BJGMC

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India accounts for 25% of the global tuberculosis burden, and ranks #1 in the world for total cases. Along with the rest of the country, the people of Pune assume a disproportionate share of the disease. The BJGMC-JHU clinical research partnership has many tuberculosis studies underway to prevent disease and disease transmission, diagnose it quicker, and treat it more effectively and in a shorter amount of time than the average 6-month treatment course.

Celebrated on March 24 each year, World TB Day raises awareness about global health. In Pune, World TB Day is an opportunity for the BJGMC-JHU Clinical Research Site (CRS) to offer health education programs to community members. This year, CRS personnel developed a healthy lifestyle program for clinical research study participants and their families who are coping with the burden of tuberculosis.

Savita Kanade, Community Coordinator for the CRS and organizer of the program, knows the value of such events, “We know that people with serious chronic illness such as TB often feel isolated and powerless. World TB Day provides an opportunity for us to recognize participants in our TB studies and empower them with strategies they can use to maintain good health.” 

The program this year focused on three major themes:

  1. The important role good nutrition plays during and after TB treatment in maintaining good health and increasing immunity.

  2. Mental health challenges associated with TB, and strategies for addressing those challenges. 

  3. The importance of TB research in developing more effective treatments. 

CRS Coordinator Dr. Nishi Suryavanshi opened the day by welcoming participants and thanking them. Following was a presentation on nutrition by Ms. Ankita Ghag, Clinical Nutritionist from Mumbai, which was very well received. Ms. Ghag discussed the importance of maintaining healthy nutrition, and also talked about diet for children infected with TB. The audience was engaged, and there were many questions during the discussion.

Dr. Sneh Babhulkar, Psychiatrist from Sassoon General Hospital, conducted an interactive session with participants about mental health challenges associated with TB. She discussed how to identify psychological distress, coping strategies, and warning signs about when to seek help from a physician. She, too, fielded many questions from the engaged audience.

Mr. Sachin Tarange discussed the importance of using a mask while on TB treatment to prevent disease transmission.

Dr. Mandar Paradkar, BJGMC-JHU TB Study Coordinator, discussed ongoing TB research and what is being learned. He acknowledged study participants for their important role in research and their contributions to advancing TB science.

Sapana Adhav, Study Counselor for A5349, a study aiming to shorten the lengthy and burdensome treatment course, recited a motivating poem she wrote for participants that was appreciated and well received. Participants acknowledged study clinician Dr. Neetal, and study counselors Hari Koli and Sapana Adhav for their care and emotional support during the treatment period.

Dr. Vidya Mave, CRS Leader and Director of the BJGMC CRS, and Dr. Joshi, Vice-Dean of BJGMC closed the discussion by thanking the audience for their lasting contributions to TB research and to the community. Study and Outreach counselors distributed healthy foods to participants, and the day ended with a lunch for the group.

Sixty participants and family members were in attendance. Congratulations to the BJGMC CRS Team for a successful event, and for unwavering commitment to community health and well-being.