Respiratory infections have been haunting humanity for a long time, and Tuberculosis is one such primary infection. The world woke up to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic indicating how deadly respiratory illness can be. It is a grave reminder that health threats can travel faster across the continents. Tuberculosis has been present in humans since ancient times. Skeletal remains show that some prehistoric humans had TB.
Myth: Tuberculosis is a curse. Reality: This is a false notion. This is caused by tuberculosis bacteria, which originated in East Africa about 3 million years ago. TB was found in mummies around 15000 years back. Since it is caused by TB bacteria, therefore it can occur in rich and poor persons. It can be prevented by taking appropriate measures and precautions.
Robert Koch’s announcement of the tubercle bacillus in 1882 was a landmark, but attention in colonial India moved from the bacillus to the conditions in which it spread. From the turn of the century, tuberculosis was viewed as ‘a malady of civilization,’ caused by overcrowding and stress associated with urban industrialized life. Tuberculosis was euphemistically referred to as cough and or fever. It was not high on the medical agenda of British India, unlike cholera or malaria, as it did not directly affect the economy or administration . Yet, in Bombay city, tuberculosis came to be recognized as a public health challenge, and it was Sir Ratan J. Tata who suggested the project of the Anti -Tuberculosis League (ATL) at a public meeting in 1912 and promised an annual donation of Rs. 15,000, for ten years.
The impact of the unclean and crowded living conditions, especially that
experienced in the thickly populated slums of the developing countries,
towards enhancing the risk of tuberculosis (TB) infection is well known, and
the same has been documented previously [1-3]. Historically, TB has been a
disease associated with poor people across the world. On an average about
2–3 million people succumb to this neglected yet a lethal disease. Of this
population, a large fraction belongs to the underprivileged habitats in the
developing countries and the poor, urban neighbourhoods in wealthier,
advanced powers .
Tuberculosis disease among previously treated individuals (recurrent TB) constitutes 5–30% of the TB burden. There has been a lot of effort to make a difference between Relapse & Recurrence. "Recurrence", is generally considered as "the second episode of tuberculosis, after the cure of the first episode". Recurrence may be due to endogenous relapse or exogenous reinfection . Repeated recurrences in the same individual add to the TB burden, but the extent has not been quantified due to difficulties in identifying recurrence in routinely collected data . Therein lies a challenge that needs to be addressed.
This is a brief story of a woman, educated and working in UK and who had to undergo multiple episodes of recurrence.
Data Science is an emerging discipline. Ubiquitous digitalization, the consequent generation of ‘big’ data, the capability to process the data, and the semiotics of its translation to innovate solutions to problems in healthcare and other domains are catalysts of its rapid growth. Digitalization is generating voluminous streams of numerical, textual, visual, auditory, haptic, and other types of data about our bodies, the things we use, and what we do where and when. Data Science is the science of translating this data into information, meaning, interpretation, knowledge, action, feedback, and learning. Systematically mining this large volume and variety of data can yield novel insights and innovative systemic solutions to current healthcare problems.