What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
The treatment of TB is sure if taken accurately, but is very long - from six to eight months. Patients need to take medicine (fixed dosage regimen) three times in a week for all these months. Majority of patients being poor and semi-literate, they miss out on the dates of dosage due to various reasons and circumstances. It is also very important that the patients take medicine without any interruption. Interruption in treatment of TB leads to a severe form of TB called drug resistance TB, which is much harder, longer and expensive to treat. Hence, regular reminders sent to the patients seem to have been very successful and effective.
There is another severe condition of TB called Multi Drug Resistant TB (MDR TB), which develops during the treatment of TB and is now becoming a growing problem. This occurs if a patient stops taking treatment drugs during their recovery or if they do not take the drugs correctly. In this case, the prescribed medicine becomes ineffective, as it is unable to kill the TB germs any longer. In such cases, a resistance to the medicine is developed. This makes the disease harder, longer and more expensive to treat.
I was moved by the story of a very poor migrant worker (labourer) - Ram Dhan, who has come from the state of Bihar - one of the poorest states in India. The poor patient worked for 2 years in Punjab (a prosperous state). He was detected with Tuberculosis. He got enrolled at a DOTS center treatment, and got the treatment for 6 weeks. Unfortunately, his old mother developed some serious problem and he left to his home town. Due to poverty and his won serious problems at home, he could not continue a regular treatment in Bihar. Infact there is no provision for any patient to shift the center of treatment. So he took new medicine course for a few weeks again in Bihar on his return. After a while, he lost hsi mother. But by then he has also lost his job, whihc is never secure for a migrant worker. So he came down to Delhi in search of livelihood. I met this guy in Delhi while working in a slum contruction area. Ram Dhan looked very weak and was severly coughing. I asked him about his illness and he narrated his story to me. My God, I was shocked, as he had alreadt taken TB doses 2 times, thgat too in parts not a complete course. I immediately got him enrolled in a nearby DOTS center. After diagnozing, he was detected with drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) which I had already suspected - drug resistance to general TB antibiotics. MDR TB is also 10 times more complex in treatment, time and money. But the most positive thing was that Ram Dhan was carrying a mobile phone to be in touch with his wife and childrne in the village. This really gave me a boast to develop a Universall TB Management System whihc can be implemented at national level, which can store all patient data who are enrolled throughout the country (and later can also be globalized in other countries). His mobile phone can also be registred and he can be given regualr information about the dosage and medicine he has to take regularly. This was the most enlighting moment in my life. Thanks Ram Dhan for opening new approach in TB treatment.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
My self - Hilmi Quraishi. I am always on look for implementing technology based solutions using mobile phones in the rural communities, which can really help the last person on the planet. I have been a Serial Entrepreneur and Technovator using technology to empower marginalzied, rural and isolated communities. I am also an Ashoka Fellow. I believe that just like every person's right to get clean water or clean air, food or shelter, health or education; similarly mobile should be every person's " right to own and use" with some dedicated bandwidth for services on a non-commercial basis. Only this can enable connecting the poorest of the poor, and thus delivering them basic services around fundamental rights. So the s;logan is "Mobile for Everyone". This give access to all people to get critical social information on various doamins from healthcare, agri, sustainable development, education, trainign and livelihood generation.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Personal contact at Changemakers
If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company
No, it is my Organization only: ZMQ Software Systems (a Technology for Development Social Enterprise)