Ireland leading the charge in COMBATTING TB

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Indian medical student Niveta Ramakrishnan welcomes Irish efforts to combat tuberculosis which is widespread in her home country. 
“In Ireland we have research infrastructure to tackle global diseases and this allows us to contribute enormously to the development of medicines. For example, tuberculosis has a global footprint, but Ireland is playing a major role in tackling it.”

So says Niveta Ramakrishnan, who is a student of medicine at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons Ireland) and an Irish Red Cross volunteer. Earlier this year RCSI made a breakthrough research discovery when the university developed a new treatment for tuberculosis (TB), something for which it received worldwide acclaim. There is only one vaccine for TB which was developed in 1921 but it is unreliable in preventing the most common form of TB and is not suitable in all patient groups. This new discovery offers a practical treatment which has the potential to be scaled up and mass produced for clinical testing.

Donations can be made by clicking here: Irish Red Cross Tuberculosis ( TB) Appeal

It means a lot to Niveta to see Ireland making such strides in tackling this disease as she hails from India, which has the highest occurrence of TB in the world.

While it will take several years for RCSI’s research discovery to reach TB patients, the Irish Red Cross is continuing its work to tackle TB in India. As an Irish Red Cross volunteer and someone who has seen, first hand, the effects of TB in India, Niveta was the obvious choice to spearhead an appeal launched by the Irish Red Cross this week to raise much needed funds for the charity’s TB programme in India.

“TB is so prevalent at home” says Niveta. “It is particularly problematic in districts where people are living in open areas and communal living spaces because in these settings, TB spreads very quickly. I visited a refugee camp with the Indian Red Cross and there were a huge number of patients with TB there. They were given multivitamin tablets because they were so malnourished due to the knock-on effects of the disease itself. It was very difficult because I was aged 14 at the time and it was my first ever patient contact. The doctors were extremely busy, they had a large number of patients to attend to each day.

“I’m delighted to be involved with this Red Cross fundraising initiative,” continues Niveta, “because the monies raised will go solely towards preventing needless suffering and death. The Red Cross has developed an expertise in tackling TB in India and I have seen the difference the Red Cross work makes to those who are most in need. That’s why I’m putting my name to this campaign and am calling on others to donate today.”

Irish Red Cross Indian Red Cross delegates brief residents of Amritsar District, in Punjab on assistance available via the Irish Red Cross TB programme.

The appeal was launched ahead of India Independence Day which takes place on Thursday, 15 August.

Donations can be made by clicking here: Irish Red Cross Tuberculosis ( TB) Appeal

Irish Red Cross TB work in India

The Irish Red Cross has been supporting initiatives to prevent and control TB in India since 2015 and since the inception of its programme has reached more than 550,000 people. However, despite significant progress which has been made in the fight against tuberculosis, “if the disease is to be eradicated by 2030, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, then the time to take action is now,” says Liam O’ Dwyer, Secretary General of Irish Red Cross. He goes on to state “it is unacceptable that is this day and age, TB, despite being curable, is, today, the world’s leading killer among infectious diseases.”

Irish Red Cross Irish Red Cross International Programme Manager Anna Marie O’Carroll being briefed by Indian Red Cross delegates on outcomes of the Irish Red Cross TB programme in Amritsar district, Punjab, India.

The Irish Red Cross is stepping up its efforts in tackling TB and aims to scale up the number of people it targets through its ongoing work. In doing so, Red Cross community health workers, through active case finding, will continue to save lives by providing essential patient-centred care and prevention to vulnerable marginalised groups over the next year. 

Irish Red Cross support and funding of this programme is essential in ensuring its continuation.

 

RCSI breakthrough discovery
In 2019 RCSI made a breakthrough research discovery when the university developed a new treatment for tuberculosis (TB), something for which it received worldwide acclaim. There is only one vaccine for TB which was developed in 1921 but it is unreliable in preventing the most common form of TB and is not suitable in all patient groups. This new discovery offers a practical treatment which has the potential to be scaled up and mass produced for clinical testing.

The new treatment is taken using an inhaler and works by reducing the bacteria in the lungs which cause TB, while also helping the patient’s immune system fight the disease. It makes use of a derivative of Vitamin A and using a spray-drying process, the researchers packaged the derivative within safe-for-consumption particles that are small enough to use in an inhaler. The research showed these particles efficiently delivered the treatment and significantly reduced tuberculosis-causing bacteria and associated lung damage.  

Please help us combat TB in India by making a donation.

Click: Irish Red Cross Tuberculosis ( TB) Appeal

 

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