MIT grad Manish Bhardwaj curing tuberculosis in India’s poorest villages

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News

Two years ago, award-winning MIT graduate Manish Bhardwaj moved to Bihar, India, to help fight tuberculous in its poorest villages.

"Bhardwaj, who has won several awards, including the IBM Research Fellowship, has launched an ambitious programme called Aahan in association with two other voluntary organisations — Prajnopaya Foundation and the Swasti Seva Samiti — to provide world class care to povertystricken rural people," reported the Daily Mail's Giridhar Jha.

"In two years time, we have achieved remarkable results," Bhardwaj said in an interview. "TB patients used to shy away from going to the hospital for treatment but more and more people are coming forward now."

Bhardwaj, CEO and co-founder of Innovators of Health (IIH) has been living with a team of colleagues in the Dalsingsarai block of Samastipur district to ensure the proper treatment of the infectious disease currently afflicting a large portion of the population in the area.

"We identify the patients in the 16 panchayats of Dalsingsarai block and ensure their proper treatment," Bhardwaj told the Daily Mail.

"We make sure that they take medicines without any break during the six months of their treatment."

"An effective cure for TB was found almost six decades ago, but 2 billion people are now infected with latent TB. 9,270,000 developed active disease, while 1,756,000 died of it in 2007. The principal reasons for these tragic numbers are poverty, and the burden of adhering to a 6-8 month long course of antibiotics," reported Bhardwaj's organization, Innovators in Health. "To ensure adherence, patients today must travel to providers who supervise treatment. This is a significant barrier for poor patients struggling to make ends meet. Recruiting providers close to patients, on the other hand, entails supervising a vast, distributed provider network."

In Bihar alone, 180,000 new cases of tuberculosis are reported every year. Because of the Indian state's poverty, a majority of tuberculosis patients abandon treatment before completed.

Bhardwaj and his team are already changing that.

"Since the programme was launched in July 2010, 328 patients have been diagnosed with TB out of which 204 have been fully cured," Bhardwaj said.