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Gasping For Breath

Author: Suno India

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Gasping For Breath is a deep-dive reported narrative podcast series on tuberculosis in India. It is India's first podcast on tuberculosis hosted by senior health journalist Menka Rao.
14 Episodes
TB is also a highly stigmatised disease making it very difficult for patients enduring treatment. In this episode, we look at how the stigma makes it worse for women TB patients, a marginalised group. We hear the voices of women who express how they feel as TB patients and survivors, and the disease has affected their life significantly. See for privacy information.
The private sector treats about 70% of TB patients. In this episode, we go to Patna which is successfully running a programme in engaging the private sector to battle TB. The programme links the private sector with the facilities provided in the public sector which helps in standardising the diagnosis and treatment of TB. See for privacy information.
India has the highest number of patients suffering from drug-resistant tuberculosis in the world. However, the access to newer TB drugs which have so far been more effective are not as easily available. The patients are usually given old regimens which are less effective and full of toxic side effects.  See for privacy information.
In this episode, we travel to Manipur and understand the risks of TB infection with the drug user community. The drug user community has, by and large, been ignored by the TB programme of the country. However because of the risks of contracting other infections such as HIV and hepatitis C, and the use of opioids itself makes a person more vulnerable to TB.  See for privacy information.
The Joint Monitoring Mission recently visited Kerala and were all praises for its work in TB control with aims to eliminate the disease. In this episode we speak to Dr Shibu Balakrishnan and Dr Rakesh PS, both WHO officers in Kerala who have provided technical support in designing this successful programme. The experts talk about how engaging state health workers and resources optimally helped them work out a strategy that works. See for privacy information.
All it takes is a big box which cannot go unnoticed to stir a conversation about what's in/on it. In Jharkhand, that's what clicked in Hazaribagh district. Faiz Anwar made a box with "What do you know about TB?" written on it and asked for it to be passed on from one shop to another. In a place where TB is considered a curse and isn't something people want to talk about, he says, people now want to know about it and those with TB come to seek for guidance. In this episode, we spoke with Faiz to understand his efforts towards community outreach in the state of Jharkhand.  See for privacy information.
In this episode, we speak to human rights activist, Allan Maleche from Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN) which has supported rights of both HIV positive people and TB patients and fought in court. Last month, they were awarded the Kochon Prize at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad. Maleche spoke about how the law can be effectively used to support TB patients.  See for privacy information.
In this special episode, Suno India editor, Padma Priya, brings an interview with Nandita Venkatesan, one of the founders of Bolo Didi. Bolo Didi led by TB survivors and patient activists Nandita Venkatesan and Rhea Lobo is a sisterhood of women TB survivors who use social media, WhatsApp and telephone calls to connect with and mentor people affected by TB in India.  The first-hand TB experiences of its didis (sisters) inform the support they offer and help people to receive an accurate diagnosis. From advising patients on right diagnosis test to informally counselling them to cope with side effects, this sisterhood of "didis" has so far helped numerous patients across the country. More information on Bolo Didi is available at See for privacy information.
This episode will describe the various problems faced by both patients and doctors in diagnosing TB. TB is tough to diagnose, and the difficulties only compound as the patients still do not have complete access to all the advanced diagnostics when TB is first suspected. With drug resistance increasing in the country, India needs to loosen these systems to ensure proper diagnosis of the patients.  See for privacy information.
In this episode, we historically trace the importance of nutrition for the treatment of tuberculosis which disappeared as soon as the medicines were found for the disease. We talk about the present-day crisis, particularly in Chhattisgarh, where TB patients who are highly malnourished are coming for treatment, and many not recovering well. After repeated advocacy of activists and doctors, the government acknowledged the importance of nutrition in tuberculosis treatment. The government introduced Nikshay Poshan Yojana, where every patient is supposed to get Rs 500 per month. Is that enough though? For more stories like this, you can listen on Also follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. See for privacy information.
Bad housing is one of the major drivers in the spread of TB. In this episode, we talk to experts on how it was the non-medical interventions such as better housing and nutrition which pulled down the TB epidemic in Europe, not medicines as much. We also met a family in Mumbai who had three cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis in their house in a span of three years. See for privacy information.
"A new drug to treat tuberculosis -petromanid- was approved by the USFDA last week. In this special episode of the podcast, we speak to Leena Menghaney, South Asia head of Médecins Sans Frontières'  Access Campaign to understand the implications of this new drug for India's TB patients. See for privacy information.
This episode talks about the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis in India. This emergence coincided with the launch of Directly Observed Treatment Shortcourse or DOTS programme in the late 90s. This programme completely ignored the treatment for complicated drug-resistant tuberculosis. The treatment for this form of TB is much harder and the cure rates lower. The problem of drug-resistant tuberculosis in some parts of the country has reached the proportion of a public health emergency. For more stories like this, you can listen on Also follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. See for privacy information.
In this first episode of 'Gasping for Breath', India's first podcast on state of tuberculosis and it's treatment in India, we go back in time to understand the emergence of this deadly disease. Menaka Rao, senior health journalist and host will also tell you about the wild myths surrounding the disease. In the early 19th century, the only recourse was staying in a sanatorium for years or more. Then the cause of the disease was found - a tiny bacteria and the focus of doctors turned towards killing the bacteria. But do medicines and technology alone help control the disease. See for privacy information.
Comments (3)

free democrat

this is a noble start and I sincerely feel that TB is yet to get the attention it deserves in mainstream media. People still consider it a disease of the poor and that's the reason several top media houses don't cover it well. Our Elite Aedes Aegypti mosquito and its dengue virus is more popular than our humble TB bacteriun and if a rich person gets TB I have witnessed them ( the person who contracts the disease) even go to the extent blaming their domestic workers or the areas they come from ( frankly I have encountered just one incident of this kind. There may be many more 'blame it on the poor incidents). I want this podcast to stun people with facts that TB is omnipresent in all of us. It should be, brought at par with statuses of diabetes and heart ailments, to Interviews of middle class senior executives who have contracted the disease, how they are coping with it should be part of the podcast. In Ahmedabad I have witnessed women from poor middle class households going for Clinical Trials while husbands lie redundant at home because of TB. In few cases husbands turn drunkards. Such stories too should be carried. How, not just the disease, but the economic burden accompanying such diseases are breaking our families. I am basically pissed with the state of affairs of the health system in our country. In the end all that matters is a good health for our country, our children our adults and elderly, balanced food and them come the rest and then Pakistan and the guns and the war mongering and the cultural war and the...

Feb 27th

Suno India

thank you :)

Jul 2nd


Nice 👍👍

Jun 29th
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