In order to reach its goal of eliminating TB from India by 2025 it is important that the citizen in the last mile should be sensitized towards TB and provided proper test and treatment; particularly in the hard-to-reach areas. This was felt strongly by the Paramedic Gitanjali, Community Mobilizer Makheso and Driver Upendra, the filed ACF team from Wakro Block, Lohit District of Arunachal Pradesh.
Paramedic Gitanjali, Community Mobilizer Makheso and Driver Upendra would begin their work at 5:30 in the morning when they left their homes to reach the community. Arunachal Pradesh lies in the far east of India, so the day there begins early and so does the daily work. Being a local of the area gave an added advantage to both Gitanjali and Makheso in understanding the culture, the community, and their difficulties. They utilised it as a means of reaching out to the public and persuading them to get TB tested. Their interaction with the community was at a very personal level. They would encourage and motivate people to test and sensitise them about TB and COVID-19 and in active management of their health. They believed that reaching the last person was important in the work towards the elimination of TB.
Being local to the area they were used to the difficult terrain they had to cross every day to reach the community. Their work would often take them to hard-to-reach areas and put them in tricky situations that would require their ingenuity and resourcefulness to come out.
One such incident took place once when they travelled to Natai Village in the Wakro Block. Gitanjali and Upendra were in the office four-wheeler and Makheso was in his motorbike. When they reached the middle of the jungle the four-wheeler got derailed and the wheels got stuck in the middle of the road.
To make matter worse the mobile network was also not available in the area; so, they could not call anyone for help. When after continuous efforts on their part the trio could not get the vehicle out they decided to leave the vehicle and walk further to see if they could find any help.
After walking three to four kilometres, they were informed by some locals that there was a crane available nearby. They saw a ray of hope. They decided to try their luck and went looking for the crane owner. They finally reached him and informed him about their predicament. After a lot of coxing and requesting the crane owner agreed on using his crane to pull out their vehicle.
With the help of the crane, they were finally able to pull out the vehicle and towed it to the workshop. Since it was getting dark and not safe to be out Makheso dropped Gitanjali at her house. Upendra the driver after some repairs to the vehicle was able to reach the office.
It is because of these brave and dedicated team members who put in their all despite the obstacles they face, that the goal of elimination of TB seems like a possible dream.