Romanian lung hospital raises awareness about tuberculosis, air pollution with artwork

Romania has 20% of all the tuberculosis cases in Europe and air pollution has risen in recent years in the traffic-choked developing capital and other cities which are rapidly developing.

With the highest incidence of tuberculosis across the EU, some 12,000 cases were reported in 2020 of which almost 600 were children. The main challenge is inadequate follow-up of tuberculosis patients and poor treatment results for resistant tuberculosis.

Every year, around 800 new cases of resistant tuberculosis occur, but only about 60 per cent of the cases are diagnosed.

Air pollution including noxious PMB air particles and Saharan sand that periodically envelop the capital and other big cities can make people vulnerable to TB as well as other illnesses such as bronchitis and cardio-vascular problems.

Although the overall TB notification rate in Romania has declined in recent years, TB remains high in certain vulnerable populations groups such as prisoners, the homeless population and among drug users.

If lung health is a focus of the health ministry, the country’s main center for treatment is the Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases “Marius Nasta” Institute in Bucharest.

The institute which is on a leafy street in south Bucharest is raising public awareness about the twin health issues with a mural on one of its walls.

The mural depicts the fight against tuberculosis and air pollution combined with a positive message about hope and recovery.

The mural was created following a competition organized by the Marius Nasta Institiute in partnership with the World Health Organization Country Office in Romania and the National Art University.

Butterflies flutter across the mural, a symbol of a patient suffering from tuberculosis who gradually recovers. The transformation of the butterfly „mirrors the healing process of a patient, from being protected in a bubble by dedicated health care professionals to taking flight once cured,” a press release said.

“This project is a powerful example of the significant contribution of arts to health and well-being, particularly in city initiatives. The mural is a call to protect our environment, support TB prevention, and celebrate the resilience of those affected. Every butterfly that takes flight is a victory in that battle,” said Dr Caroline Clarinval, WHO Representative in Romania on Wednesday when the mural was unveiled.


The winner was Theia Catrina Mirodot, a first-year art student who painted the art with five other art students. They specially used air-purifying paint, an innovative technology that converts harmful air pollutants into harmless compounds.

The attractive artwork on a healing blue background will also be visible beyond the hospital walls: on buses and billboards in Bucharest and the cities of Iasi and Craiova,  among the country’s most polluted cities.

The Marius Nasta Institute was established in 1906 as the first tuberculosis hospital in Romania and is the country’s most important medical and research institution in lung diseases and tuberculosis. Since 1997, it’s been the coordinator of the national tuberculosis program.

Breathing Space. Romanian cities among EU’s worst places for air pollution


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