FIND India

I recently travelled to India to work for FIND (Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics), an international non-profit organization that enables the development and delivery of much-needed diagnostic tests for poverty-related diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and infectious diseases with outbreak potential, such as Ebola.

I visited New Dehli and Surat documenting FIND’s work in diagnosing tuberculosis (TB). 

In India there are over 2.5 million people infected with TB.  This includes an increasing number with MDR (Multi Drug Resistant TB) and XDR (Extreme Drug Resistant TB) – significantly more serious and virulent strains of TB which are much harder to treat, especially if not diagnosed quickly.

In 2016 over 420,000 people in India died from TB.

Preparing TB patient DNA samples for amplification in a hybridisation machine at the New Delhi TB Centre, Delhi. © Ben Phillips
Preparing TB patient DNA samples for amplification in a hybridisation machine at the New Delhi TB Centre, Delhi. © Ben Phillips

FIND’s recent technological advances mean that TB can now be diagnosed in a matter of hours rather than days or even weeks. This means a patient with the disease can begin receiving treatment much sooner and this therefore greatly reduces the risk of the disease being spread throughout the community.

In partnership with the Indian government FIND has been pioneering its new diagnostic techniques in areas of the country with high TB prevalence. 

I visited various hospitals, clinics and research facilities, such as the National Institute for TB and Respiratory Diseases, to photograph FIND’s operations on the ground.  

Ayesha, an XDR-TB patient in the Chest Clinic at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Delhi. Ayesha has been prescribed Clofazimine to treat her TB. 
One side-effect of the drug is a reddening of the skin. © Ben Phillips
Ayesha, an XDR-TB patient in the Chest Clinic at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Delhi. Ayesha has been prescribed Clofazimine to treat her TB. One side-effect of the drug is a reddening of the skin. © Ben Phillips

I met many patients with different forms of TB and in various stages of treatment. It was at times difficult and emotional work. I also met some truly inspirational local doctors, nurses and scientists who are making significant progress in reducing TB’s prevalence in India, thanks to a combination of new treatments and FIND’s advances in rapid diagnoses.

It was a humbling and rewarding trip and I hope I will have the opportunity to return to follow up on FIND’s work in India..