New Delhi: A new superhero Balgam Bhai is now in town to spread awareness on tuberculosis. Much like Superman and Spiderman, he's got a message, which is perhaps most relevant for the 21st century India.
Launched in five different languages, the new tagline of a campaign to promote testing for tuberculosis in India says, "Do hafte ho gaye kya?"
Radharani Mitra, the National Creative Director of the BBC World Service Trust, said, "Research has shown that people do not get tested enough for TB and so we identified that need and created a character called Balgam Bhai, who would go around asking people to go to the nearest DMC that's the TB testing centre."
The BBC World Service Trust partnered with the NGO 'The Union' to create awareness about a disease that causes 1,000 deaths in India everyday. Those casualties are despite the government's widely run DOTS program. The new campaign comes on the heels of a deadly new drug resistant strain of tuberculosis, detected in Mumbai.
In a country where many people test positive for TB every year, it really depends on the reach of the campaign as to how the concept of 'Balgam Bhai' will help.
Dr Sarabjit Chadha of The Union said, "While the government campaigns so far have been focusing on TB treatment, the new campaign focuses on TB detection, which is very important."
The only authentic test to confirm TB is called the sputum microscopy test available at all government health centres. In fact, blood tests offered at private hospitals that include the TB antibody tests are not recommended as they may lead to a wrong diagnosis. Balgam Bhai might tell you all about that, in the next phase.