At the first plenary of the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health, entitled “Ending the Emergency”, the panel looked to life after tuberculosis (TB), and called for more focus on the health and wellbeing of people after they are cured.
Manasi Khade from Mumbai spoke of her own experiences with extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB). Manasi was 19 when she was diagnosed. She was heartbroken to receive the news and she experienced poor mental health during her period of home isolation. Manasi looked forward to getting back to normal life after she finished her treatment – but people continued to treat her as though she was sick long after she was cured, and even family members stopped visiting her.
“It has been almost two years that I’ve been cured – still I face this stigma.”
Dr Stellah Mpagama, of the Kibong’oto Infectious Disease Hospital, Tanzania, presented on Optimising treatment to maximise health and wellbeing after TB, pointing to evidence that the prevalence of depression in people with TB is three times higher than is seen with other diseases. Little is known about the burden of mental illness in post-TB patients, and Dr Mpagama emphasised the importance of understanding this burden, as an area for which new science is needed to guide action and mental health management strategies.
Dr Jason Andrews of the University of Stanford also presented at the plenary, on Addressing the latent TB infection reservoir, examining methods to effectively target high risk individuals with TB infection for preventive TB therapy – in the wake of the UN High-Level Meeting on TB in which commitments were made to provide preventive therapy to 30 million people over five years.
During the plenary, the Princess Chichibu Global Memorial TB Award was presented to Dr Amina Jindani of the University of London by Dr Kosuke Okada of the Japanese Anti-Tuberculosis Association. Dr Jindani received the award for her outstanding contribution to global TB control and prevention, and said: “We have a long way to go, but I’m still on the case.”