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A warm welcome to the Annals of the National Tuberculosis Institute (NTI). This publication provides valuable information about NTI from its inception till date i.e., 1959-1999. Therefore, it is relevant to provide a context, which could not be incorporated in the volume. The primary purpose of establishing the NTI was to formulate a nationally applicable programme for tuberculosis (TB) control and training of district TB key personnel and orientation training for officers and other TB workers. Subsequent important ones were monitoring the National TB Programme (NTP) and assisting the development of infrastructure in the states. The most critical function is strengthening the State Tuberculosis Centres (STCs) to carry out their assigned functions. Thus, NTI has focused on the NTP and refrained from doing any independent research.

The history of any institution can never be written in isolation. It encompasses the events, time, places, organisations and the people involved. In Annals of NTI’ the battle against TB during last few centuries around the world, comes to life. The readers can relive the bygone era and those associated with the governments, organisations and institutions mentioned in the Annals can start to feel a part of it. There are many states, organisations and individuals who have helped NTI in several ways as mentioned in the text. However, it will be relevant to mention the names of a few equal partners of NTI in the formulation of the programme. These are the Government of Karnataka, in particular the Lady Willingdon State TB Centre (LWSTC), Bangalore , World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The WHO officers and staff posted in NTI from 1959 to 1977 worked as a part of NTI team in developing a revolutionary approach to TB control. As stated by Dr Mahler (one of the WHO officers), they worked with the dedication of true grass-root-workers. They withstood criticism from the WHO headquarters Geneva as well as South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO), New Delhi for not always following the mandate determined by the WHO.

The observations in the memorabilia are personal; individual freedom has been respected, hence each one’s opinions have been expressed without reservations. This does not purport to be the official stand of the NTI or the Director. It must also be noted that while establishing the Institute, a majority of the staff were handpicked and they sometimes worked in capacities different from those for which they were recruited. This was necessary because at that time people with appropriate qualifications were not available, nor had job descriptions been formulated. Some of them may have suffered monetary stringencies since progression could not be assured. Hence, a certain amount of frustration crept in. This was unfortunate but subsequently, suitable administrative actions were taken. The names of the officers and some staff have been mentioned in different chapters as and when they held responsibility. However, there may be some who might have not found a place in the Annals in spite of working in NTI. The omission is not deliberate.

There have been indications, that NTI should diversify or enlarge its area of research. Some officers of the NTI believed that research restricted entirely to TB after implementing the programme was far too limiting. It is my view, that NTI should continue to focus on research in the field of TB specifically. Whenever necessary, it should engage in collaborative research with other organisations for studies with a broader purview. The theme Small is beautiful aptly applies to NTI, which has the strength of about 200 staff members. However, it does not mean that NTI should not update itself. There should be constant upgradation with regard to infrastructure, facilities and staffing. The Bacteriology, Library and the Statistics Sections should be modernised with sophisticated equipments. Given the pandemic of AIDS, the Bacteriology Section is a valuable asset for NTI and its collaborating organisations carrying out experimental research on Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) and Human Immuno Deficiency virus (HIV).

This book is a tribute to the people who have been and are currently involved either directly or indirectly in this venture. Further, the Annals may prove to be a valuable source of inspiration, in the future, to researchers, programme implementers and policy makers. Sincere attempts have been made to ensure that reading of the annals is enjoyable. Hence, the narrations are like stories being rendered.

Dated : April 2000
Dr (Mrs) P Jagota

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