News / Asia

In India, Fighting TB with Fingerprints

In India, Fighting Tuberculosis with Fingerprintsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
February 26, 2013 4:06 PM
Tuberculosis remains a major health crisis for India, with two million people diagnosed each year. VOA New Delhi correspondent Aru Pande tells us how health officials are using technology to make sure TB sufferers receive the treatment they need.
Aru Pande
Health specialists in India are using fingerprint technology to make sure tuberculosis sufferers receive proper treatment for the deadly lung infection.

New Delhi resident Vishnu Maya has already noticed a difference in her health after a few weeks of treatment for the disease.
 
“I feel better. I have been feeling better for the last two to three days," she says. "I am not in a lot of pain right now.”
 
Maya goes to a neighborhood health center to take her TB medication in the presence of Neema Mehta, a counselor with the Indian NGO Operation Asha.
 
Mehta has the difficult job of ensuring that patients do not stop their treatment for any reason.
 
“We have to explain to them, because they see it is a six-month dose and they get worried that they have to take it for so long," she says. "We have to explain to them that there is no need to worry - that if you take your medication on time, you will get better.”

Tuberculosis remains a major health crisis for India, with two million people diagnosed each year.
 
Making sure patients complete treatment is crucial. Stopping can cause the lung infection to morph into a deadlier version called multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which is much more difficult and costly to treat.
 
India is estimated to be home to 100,000 such cases. But Operation Asha founder Dr. Shelly Batra fears the number is much higher, with thousands of people who remain undiagnosed.
 
“MDR-TB is the next plague that has the potential to wipe out millions," Batra says. "And if we don’t accept it now and we don’t act now by preventing drug resistance, we are going to be in very big trouble.”
 
Batra is using biometric technology to ensure TB patients are completing their drug regimen.
 
Her organization has centers in nearly every corner of the city, where the fingerprints of patients and counselors are recorded as proof of interaction. Those who do not show up to take their medication are sent reminders and tracked down.
 
The monitoring system has already made a difference and cut the default rate in half, according to Batra.
 
“We have brought it down to three percent, and with our biometric technology we have brought it down to below 1.5 percent, which I believe is a huge savings," Batra says. "MDR-TB is not just human misery, it is a huge economic loss to the patient, to the country.”

 With treatment centers in 3,000 Indian and Cambodian slums and villages, Operation Asha hopes its grass-roots effort, aided by technology, will help stem the tide of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
February 27, 2013 6:43 PM
The Indian NGO Operation Asha is doing an admirable job in New Delhi. But the use of fingerprinting has nothing to do with the completion rate of treatment of TB. May be the finger printing deter the patients to come forward for treatment. What is needed is Direct Observed Therapy (DOT) throughout India. The DOT is sucessful only if all the contacts are traced, tested and preventive/treatment medications are provided to all the contacts. Unless government of India and the states implement such a program throughout the country, TB will remain a serious health problem in India combined with the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs