Patients with tuberculosis must undergo lengthy, arduous treatment regimens in the best of times. When stricken with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, however, the road back to health is even more difficult.
This is because MDR-TB, which develops when prior cases of TB were treated incompletely or incorrectly, does not respond to the customary first-line tuberculosis drugs. With case numbers growing at an unprecedented clip, and with the highly contagious disease transmitting from person to person in some cases—MDR-TB is now a legitimate public health crisis.
In 2011, 630,000 cases of MDR-TB were diagnosed, according to the World Health Organization. With barely one in twenty TB patients being tested for drug resistance, this is just the tip of the iceberg. And yet the reaction of the global medical community has been slow, vague, and inefficient, particularly when it comes to developing better treatment options for MDR-TB patients.
The most neglected are children living with MDR-TB. VII Photo’s Ron Haviv visited MSF’s pediatric MDR-TB program in Tajikistan, one of Asia’s poorest countries, where the disease is indeed spreading at an alarming rate. Through the experience of an MSF nurse trying to care for children suffering with the disease, Haviv documents this new and very dangerous medical front line.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), VII Photo, and UNION HZ present FATAL NEGLECT, a six-part documentary film project, that tells the stories of millions of patients left behind by the global health revolution.
In Fatal Neglect: The Global Health Revolution’s Forgotten Patients, VII photographers Seamus Murphy, Venetia Dearden, Ron Haviv, and John Stanmeyer document the impact of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, the three deadliest neglected tropical diseases—(visceral leishmaniasis (kala azar), Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and Chagas—and vaccine-preventable diseases.
The award-winning photojournalists traveled to Mali, Paraguay, South Sudan, and Tajikistan to capture the stories of frontline health workers trying to fight diseases that affect millions of people and kill hundreds of thousands each year yet garner little attention from drug developers, policy makers, or the mass media.