With roughly two million new cases each year in India alone, the sub continent is home to one quarter of all tuberculosis patients world wide. Founded in Delhi in 2005 Operation Asha (Op Asha), an NGO dedicated to the eradication of TB, has taken a low cost, local approach to dealing with both the staggering patient load as well as the devastating social stigma associated with the illness.

Over the past year, Op Asha has treated roughly five thousand low income patients via more than 120 Directly Observed Therapy, Short Course (DOTS) Centres in 14 cities across 6 Indian states. Hiring and training councillors directly from the communities they will be working in, Op Asha's field staff have the advantage of first hand knowledge of the environment, its inhabitants and the issues they face. Through their daily interaction with the community, councillors are able to identify and treat patients in a low key and culturally sensitive fashion, follow up on patients who have defaulted on their treatment and bring a sense of collective comfort to neighbourhoods unaccustomed to the presence of a full time health worker.

Another major contributing factor to the organization's effectiveness has been the placement and hours of operation of the DOTS centres. Rather then opening up a Op Asha specific centre in each new location they work in and having to shoulder the resulting rent,  Op Asha has partnered with local businesses or for-profit health-care providers already active in the community in a win-win situation for all parties. Due to flexible hours and the fact that the DOT Centres are usually within walking distance of the patients homes Op Asha's is able to treat their patients on a time-table that works for the patient and does not interrupt or hinder their ability to work, go to school or go about their daily lives.

Reducing costs to match the funding available from the Indian government, Op Asha has streamlined their Centres allowing them to become self sufficient and cost neutral within two years, roughly the amount of time it takes to get paper work through the mountain of bureaucratic red tape. This has allowed the the organization to rapidly scale up its operations and implement its successful model more widely, ultimately reaching more patients.


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