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Device to motivate TB patients for treatment

- IIT Guwahati scholar develops instrument which provides information about disease, DOTS therapy

Guwahati, May 16: The very thought of having to gulp down seven tablets every 10 to 15 minutes thrice a week at a health centre can be intimidating. It is also one of the reasons why many tuberculosis patients give up on the six to eight month-long DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment, Short-term) therapy before being cured completely.

But help is now at hand to keep patients motivated and focussed on the therapy, with a student of IIT Guwahati developing an electronic device to raise awareness among them. The device developed by Himanshu Seth, a masters student of the design department, will provide vital information to patients undergoing DOTS.

Aptly christened Parichaya (introduction), the device has 14 keys, two each in seven sections, which when pressed will provide vital facts about TB, how it spreads, the dos and don’ts of the therapy and motivate them not to abandon it so that the disease can be cured. The device, equipped with basic recording module and embedded audio, will provide information in Assamese.

“The device will be given to the patients during the interval of 10 to 15 minutes between each of the seven tablets. Normally, a patient visiting a DOTS centre sits idle during this time and we will try to use it to motivate them to complete the treatment,” Seth told The Telegraph.

“We had conducted a survey and while talking to tuberculosis patients, heath workers and doctors, we found that many patients were giving up the treatment owing to lack of motivation to overcome the monotony. The device will replace brochures provided by hospitals, as most patients do not read them. Many patients cannot read written material but our device will provide them with information through the audio system in Assamese,” said Keyur Sorathia, assistant professor of the department, who guided Himanshu.

The project was started in June last year and recently tested among patients at a public health centre in North Guwahati.

“The prototype is ready and we want to provide the device in government hospitals soon. We hope the device will not only motivate tuberculosis patients to complete the DOTS therapy but also increase awareness about the disease. Once a patient knows all about the disease, he or she will spread the information in their villages,” Sorathia said.