by Gennady POROSHENKO, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), Institute of Reanimatology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
Recently a young ambitious woman consulted at the Institute of Pulmonology, I. M. Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy, asked the doctor with horror: "Can I really have tuberculosis? Why, it is the disease of degenerated people!" "Not at all", she heard in response, "La Traviata and Anton Chekhov suffered from consumption, too" - "Are tuberculosis and consumption one and the same thing then?!" the patient wondered and, it seemed, even felt a little proud.
Back in the 19th century this severe disease became a global problem, all the more so that there was no proper treatment of it. ТВ did not spare people of any rank (even the Russian tsar's family), but was predominantly the lot of the poor, and was often considered a social malaise of the "rank and file" of society. Its name was consumption: the infected people were slowly, but inevitably consumed by the disease.
Advanced countries, in their attempts to check the progress of the disease and help its victims, organized a Tuberculosis Control League. Many of its active members appeared in Russia, and they had the widest strata of the population face the problem. At first the movement was restricted to private donations (from the tsarist family and aristocracy) and social charity, with three-thirds of donations being allotted to the creation and support of ТВ sanatoria (later they were organized by the zemstvos-elected organs of local self-administration). These institutions worked up ТВ cases. Simultaneously, specialized outpatient health centers were opened; this practice was copied from France. Also, one took care of weak patients (mainly children) from poor families and of relatives of patients, who were in permanent contact with them. By 1911 there had been more than 100 organizations running rest camps (colonies) in which more than 15,000 boys and girls improved their heal ... Read more