THE AUTHOR, DR. RAMAN KAKAR
It takes courage to listen to one’s conscience and devote the entire life towards attainment of one’s ideal. A private medical practitioner of Faridabad (Haryana, India) embarked on such a journey in 1995. He set himself a unique and singular goal: “To eradicate TB through creating awareness”. (Get Free eBooks by Dr. Kakar – Click Here)
While Dr. Raman Kakar (MBBS & PG diploma in TB) remained busy in diagnosing and treating all sorts of TB patients, he was acutely conscious that most of TB patients coming to his clinic were too poor to afford even a square meal and were often uneducated and ignorant. They would commit silly mistakes – gave up treatment prematurely; tried to hide symptoms, delaying diagnosis; preferred quacks and self-medication; entertained myths – at times with fatal consequences. Thanks to rampant social stigma, nobody seemed to want to spend time with a TB victim or to inform him about simple precautions that could protect his kids. Dr. Kakar’s frustration would be unbearable when one of his ex-patients would walk in to his clinic with a child who had now developed TB.
Curious to get to the roots of the problem, Dr. Kakar soon set aside his inertia and the guilt of being frequently absent from his clinic; he began to chase his patients in their homes, hospitals and sanatoria to interact first hand with them and their families. He was horrified to find instances where entire family had been wiped out with TB. Was this the modern India that Gandhi Ji had dreamed of? While everything else in India was transforming – cars, flyovers, telephones, computers and internet etc.; fate of a TB patient remained unchanged. As grave as ever!
He had many a sleepless nights once the realization began to sink in that while one Indian died of TB every minute, there was no R&D happening on this neglected subject; there was no future. Most of the invitations for scientific lectures he received were focused on cardiology, Viagra, beautification, MRI – rich man’s (even trivial) ailments. He and his colleagues were constrained to use ancient tests, vaccine and drugs for TB. What double standards; the poor had no say in the global scheme of things. Ever-increasing pain and shame over the ongoing injustice motivated Dr. Kakar. He felt liberated to follow the true calling in his life. He break free from the four walls of his clinic and conclude his enquiry – sometime in the summer of 1995.
The enquiry continues.
He has since created unprecedented tools of mass awareness on TB:
1. “Teen Batein” – an award winning Hindi film for the Indian masses (1999), dubbed / subtitled later in English.
2. “A Death Every Minute” – a simple, easy to understand book on TB for a common man – in English (2002).
3. Recognizing its immense value for TB patients and health workers, and an overwhelming public response, the book was soon published in Hindi and in Tamil. Work on translation in other languages is in progress.
4. “The Test of Time” – a simple but exhaustive book on strengths and weaknesses of India’s Revised National TB Control Program (2005).
Honorable Vice President of India released this latest book.
Renowned environment activist, Sh. Sunder Lal Bahuguna, while releasing Dr. Kakar’s message in Punjabi language, exhorted him to publish it in every (third world) language …. under the sun.
5. Government of India (Ministry of Health) handpicked him for its 9-member Advisory Committee to monitor and technically support India’s ‘Revised National TB Control Program’ (RNTCP). This was a God sent opportunity to serve and research the program, which he did with total dedication.
6. Acting as a watchdog for TB-control affairs, and with an aim to further strengthen India’s TB control instrument, he, along with ‘TB Free India Foundation’, filed in 2007 Public Interest Litigation (CWP (C) No.185 of 2007) in Delhi High Court, which constituted a committee of experts to examine his suggestions (the prayers) and later passed certain directions to the govt. of India.
7. This Website (2009) is, among other things, yet another tool of spreading awareness.
8. Besides creating tools of awareness, he has been communicating with the masses with a missionary zeal & through all means and media:
a. His public messages and talks have often featured on visual media – e.g. BBC World News, Star News, Star Plus, NDTV, CNN IBN, Zee TV etc. – to name just a few.
b. He has been persistently creating mass awareness – by touring schools, colleges, slums, industries, villages, health camps, clubs, NGO’s, religious congregations and conferences.
c. He is tirelessly spreading the message through all forms of print media e.g. newspapers, magazines and rarely even through hoardings etc.
d. He has given talks on radio e.g. All India Radio and BBC Radio.
The pioneer work has been widely recognized by a cross section of the society.
A. Indian Medical Associations have conferred several awards – at National, State and Branch levels.
B. TB is a disease mainly of the poor residing in the third world. To highlight the ongoing global neglect so as to somehow mitigate the needless suffering, he has regularly sent SOS to busy national and international leaders who enjoy the power to make a difference. Occasionally, along with routine acknowledgement of such communications, he has received endorsement / appreciation of his work from some important quarters – e.g.
a. India’s Prime Minister House.
b. Rashtrapati Bhawan.
c. Famous journalist Sr. Khushwant Singh.
d. Some Political Leaders, irrespective of their leaning or party.
e. Top brass of United Nations, the WHO.
f. Philanthropic bodies like Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation etc.
C. Some TB associations of India have hailed the effort.
D. The work has sometimes been reported in a few medical journals like JIMA, HMJ and some state news-letters etc.
The author hopes and prays that through the website this crusade against TB will gather further momentum – once you too join it – by learning a little bit about TB and making a commitment to become a watchdog in your community. He seeks your whole hearted support in his ongoing and future projects.