On the eve of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, I, Dr. Shibu Vijayan, want to share my story with you. A story of hope, resilience, and determination that has shaped my life and inspired me to dedicate my career to the fight against TB. As a childhood TB survivor, public health specialist, and now Medical Director at Qure.ai, my journey has taken me from the depths of illness to the forefront of digital and AI advances in TB control.
The Battle Begins
When I was 12 years old, my world was turned upside down. What started as hip pain, mild fever, and fatigue quickly escalated into a battle for my life with a disabled leg. I was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a disease that would keep me bedridden for six long months.
My world revolved around a bed, and the only view of the external world was through the window, with occasional parrots coming to eat the fruits from the creepers.
During this time, I endured 18 months of TB treatment, which included three months of painful injections and the constant struggle of nausea and vomiting. My adolescence was very restrictive, getting many disapprovals for playing out and participating in sports. My request to play games was repeatedly turned down, and I was reminded that I was a sick boy. But through it all, I never lost hope.
Finding Purpose in the Fight
My experience with TB became the catalyst for my future career. I resolved that once I recovered, I would become a doctor and dedicate myself to TB control. I wanted to ensure that no other child would have to go through what I did. So, true to my word, I went on to become the district TB officer and served as a doctor in the very same facility where I received my treatment.
District TB Office, Kollam
Embracing Digital and AI Advances
Now, as the Medical Director at Qure.ai, I have the opportunity to integrate cutting-edge digital and AI technology into the battle against TB. AI-powered tools for advanced diagnostic imaging and data analysis are revolutionizing how we detect and treat TB. By implementing these innovative solutions, we can reduce the time it takes to diagnose TB and improve the accuracy of detection. Not only does it save lives, but it also minimizes the suffering that comes with delayed diagnosis and treatment.
The Urgency of Early Diagnosis
In my 25 years of working in TB elimination, I have come to understand the critical importance of early diagnosis. Catching TB at its earliest stages increases the likelihood of successful treatment and helps prevent the spread of thedisease to others. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential in our mission to end the global TB epidemic.
District TB Office, Kollam
A Call to Action
As we observe World TB Day on March 24th, let us remember the millions of lives impacted by this devastating disease. My story is just one of many, and it is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Together, we can harness the power of digital and AI advances to bring us closer to a world free of TB. Let us all commit to joining the fight against TB and ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has access to early diagnosis and life-saving treatment.
From surviving to thriving, my journey as a childhood TB survivor turned doctor is a testament to the power of hope and determination. As we continue to make strides in TB control and elimination, I remain dedicated to this cause, ensuring that future generations will not have to endure the pain and suffering I experienced.
So, this World TB Day, let us stand together and reaffirm our commitment to end TB once and for all.