Full Frame features photo essays and conversations with photographers in the field.
Tuberculosis can be a cruel disease, stripping people of their ability to live happy, productive lives, and whose chain of consequences extends from patients to their families and communities.
The first story I worked on about tuberculosis dealt with how the disease was affecting South African gold miners. Because my project in South Africa had dealt with a largely rural population, I chose to go next to Mumbai, India, to focus on urban communities and the unique issues that they face when dealing with TB. (Read more about how Romania has successfully combatted TB within its prisons and beyond.)
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According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for one-fifth of global TB incident cases and 330,000 Indians die each year from the disease. Many of the TB cases are centered in urban areas, like the slums of Mumbai and Delhi. I spent several weeks in Mumbai, meeting patients and health care workers, and learning about the risk factors associated with living in urban poverty.
For many people, there is little awareness about TB and access to health care is limited; poor nutrition and hygiene make people more susceptible to developing active TB, and cramped living conditions allow the disease to pass more easily from one person to another. There are many organizations in Mumbai that offer free TB health services and education classes, but the sheer number of people infected make it difficult to reach everyone.
In these photographs I hope to show the pain and misery that TB can cause, but also convey a sense of the community and environment where the disease is found. Nearly a third of the world’s population is infected with the bacteria that cause TB. It is a disease whose presence, and threat, is felt globally.
About the photographer:
David Rochkind graduated from the University of Michigan in 2002 with a degree in sociology. He spent six years covering Latin America while based in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Mexico City, Mexico. His photographs have been honored by Photo District News, the National Press Photographer’s Association, the Magenta Foundation, the Anthropographia Human Rights and Photography Award and others. David has also received grants from the International Reporting Project at Johns Hopkins University, the Pulitzer Center in Crisis Reporting and others. He is currently working on a long-term project about the costs and consequences of Mexico’s violent drug war.