Fighting TB With Phone Calls: A Project That Reminded Patients to Take Their Medicine
By Priyadarshini Kendai
When patients skip medication, the results can be dire. For many years, this was the quandary faced by India’s programme to combat tuberculosis (TB) – one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In India, 4,23,000 TB patients died in 2016 – one-third of the world’s 1.4 million death toll.
In 2016, Indian public health experts thought they had hit on an innovative solution. Called 99DOTS, it was a programme that worked with the already existing Direct Observational Therapy, or DOTS method.
DOTS was launched in 1993 in order to tackle the serious issue of each patient’s adherence to TB medication. With the DOTS project, patients had to visit health centres every day for medicine so the doctor could be sure that the patients weren’t skipping their medication. It was an exhausting process for everyone, with the patients complaining about the frequent travelling and the doctors finding it difficult to track patients who had missed their dosage.
Photo courtesy of psyberartist.