Refugees Battling TB In Uganda

John Moro 43, father of nine and resident of Morobi Zone II in Palorinya Refugee Settlement, Moyo district says he has dedicated much of his time to fight Tuberculosis because he has already known the cost Tuberculosis has inflicted on him and his family before being found with the disease in 2012.

Refugees Battling TB In Uganda
Some of the TB patients at Moyo General hospital waiting to recieve medication [Photo by Paul Night]

By Paul Night

MOYO, 10 December 2017 [Gurtong]-“It was not easy, it was really hard, and I had to sell my only bull at Uganda Shillings 700,000 that time. It is because I want to live for more years and take care of my children,” Moro said.

Moro was tested positive in 2012 and was declared cured in 2014. He has since enrolled as an expert client and a role model to others in dispensing service at Adjumani hospital.

“My work is to ensure that clients comply with medication as prescribed. I continue to give clients hope and this makes their lives improve,” Moro said.

Another expert client, Harriet Kiden 38 one of the refugee patient , at Moyo General hospital said she has taken on the fight against MDR- TB as a national service.

“Because we tell our own experience they (new clients found with TB) listen to us more than Doctors,” Kiden added.

Kiden said the fight against Tuberculosis should be taken the way government fought Polio.

In Adjumani, a TB patient, Mr Emmanuel Duku, said a person who develops TB is regarded a social outcast in most communities. “Mostly in my own community here the families of TB patients tend to keep their problems under wraps and do not discuss them with their peers in the community because even your neighbors will stop sharing basic things with your family in case they learn that one of your family members is having TB.  It is hard to disclose to friends because if you do so, they will run away and nick-name you. Thus TB remains a ‘personal issue’ rather than a community problem,” he said.

According to Dr Godfrey Manga Adjumani District Assistant DHO, an expert client is a person whose adherence to medication is 100 percent at the time of treatment and got cured as a result.

“They are very useful in some cases they can be important than doctors because theirs is experience based,” Manga said.

There are five expert clients of MDR-TB and general Tuberculosis in West Nile. They work on voluntary basis.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria whose scientific name is Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is transmitted primarily from person to person by breathing infected air during close contact.

The number of non-government-organizations (NGOs) working in TB control is also insignificant in the country. The society here remains insensitive to the issue and continues to regard TB control, as a government responsibility.

Inyani Mane, Tuberculosis and Leprosy focal person in Adjumani district  said MDR-TB is becoming the biggest public health concern in the West Nile.

In between January-March 2017, Adjumani district health office alone recorded three cases of MDR-TB compared to four cases recorded in 2016.

“The biggest obstacle for now is medication default other wise 6 out of seven known cases in the district are on medication,” Inyani said, Patients most often complain of pills burden and others end up defaulting medication due to side effects associated with the drug.

Besides non-compliance to medication treatment for MDR-TB is very expensive and is only done at Arua Regional hospital.

According to a medical personnel, MDR-TB and HIV are closely related and the rate of co-infection in Adjumani district is high. Tuberculosis kills almost 60 percent of people living with HIV/Aids.

USAID-funding project code-named Strengthening Uganda’s System for Treating AIDs Nationally (SUSTAIN) is providing hope in the management of MDR-TB.

Through the project patients are able to get shillings 200,000 monthly for addressing nutritional challenges partly solving non-compliance to treatment.

“The biggest challenge was food while in treatment this intervention has improved response to treatment,” Moro added.
 

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