Find out more about Missi’s life by listening below to the brilliant Simon Callow presenting
our BBC Radio 4 Charity Appeal and See more of Target TB’s work in Uganda
Zuze Malias lives in the small rural village of Komba in Malawi, he is a farmer, supporting his wife and 6 children. When he developed a bad cough, which he thought would just pass with time, but it didn’t. He started losing weight and feeling weaker, he was struggling to keep up with his work on the farm.
During this time he attended a community meeting, where our volunteers were educating people about TB and he recognised a lot of the symptoms they described. He spoke to one of the volunteers who took a sputum sample from him and sent it off for testing. When it came back positive he was admitted to hospital for two weeks of intensive treatment, and when he returned home his family barely recognised him as he had re-gained all the weight he had lost.
He has strictly adhered to his treatment, his family and friends have been very supportive and now fully cured he says he feels stronger and fitter than ever before.
To find out more about our work in Malawi, click here
40yr old Sundari is a widow, she lives alone in Southern India and works at a local cotton mill as a cleaner, earning just over £1 for a day’s work. Last year Sundari fell ill, she had a nasty cough, was losing weight and suffering from night sweats, she had no idea that her symptoms pointed to TB. As her conditioned worsened she was forced to stop working and unable to afford the 30p bus fair to the closest hospital she visited her nearest pharmacist, who charged her for some useless medication and her health continued to deteriorate.
One day Sundari was sat outside her small home coughing and worrying about her deteriorating health when Kavitha, a Target TB trained co-ordinator, heard her coughing and came over to talk to her. Kavitha told Sundari that her symptoms pointed to TB and took her there and then by Auto-rickshaw to the hospital for testing.
Sundari was diagnosed with TB and started on immediate treatment. Kavitha explained to her that her health would improve, but that it would take time, she linked her up with a local Target TB trained volunteer, who is giving her all the emotional and practical support she needs to complete her 8 months of TB treatment.
Sundari is now back at the mill working occasional shifts, but some colleague who found out that she has TB avoided her, but she feels strong enough to work and has stayed on despite feeling ostracised. She is hoping that once she has fully recovered she will be able to work full-time again.
‘Kavitha has been like a gift from god to me,’ she says, ‘because she has saved my life.’ I only wish I had met her sooner, because I think that if I had known about TB when my husband fell ill, he would still be here with me today.’
Click here to read more about our work in India.
Theresa lives in Timor-Leste, an island now independent from Indonesia but one of the world’s poorest nations. She lives with her baby daughter in an isolated, rural village.
When we met in 2010, she told us she had been sick with TB for a long time and was too weak to look after her family. At first, she went to traditional healers but their advice was useless. Theresa wasted away to 31kg.
It was her mother in law who knew of Klibur Domin clinic, elsewhere on the island. This clinic is a medical life-line that we support with your help. Despite Theresa’s ill health, together they walked 20 long km to the nearest road. Then they took the bus for another 60km, just to reach the clinic and get help.
Staff quickly diagnosed Theresa with TB. Her condition was so poor that she was admitted as an in-patient. Because of the long, difficult journey back to her village home, she had to stay on a specialist ward for months. But she is finally getting better, and is looking forward to seeing her daughter again.
8 year old Azhagu lives in a remote rural village in Southern India in a cramped one room home with his mother, father and three older sisters. They live on the breadline; both his parents work when they can in farming and building, but earn less than £3 a day.
Azhagu is a bright, energetic boy who loves playing with his big sisters and always helps out around the home. When Azhagu fell ill last year with a persistent cough and night sweats no one in his family knew about Tuberculosis. Azhagu’s parents decided to take him to a local traditional healer. The healer charged Azhagu’s parents for some useless medicine, which had no effect whatsoever, and Azhagu’s condition worsened.
Since 2009 we have been able to train over 1,500 local volunteers in this area to find and support people with TB. It was mother of two Valarmathi found Azhagu when she was visiting the village one day to check on a patient she was caring for. She recognized his symptoms and spoke to his father, when she explained that she suspected that he had TB his parents were terrified:
‘He is our only son, and we couldn’t imagine what we would do if we lost him.’
On Valarmathi’s advice Azhagu’s parents took him to the local hospital for TB testing. Once confirmed as having TB Azhagu was immediately started on TB treatment and every day before school his parents now take him to the local clinic for his medication.
Valarmathi visits Azhagu every 2-3 days, and will do for the next 8 months, to support the whole family and to ensure that Azhagu completes his treatment successfully. Valarmathi has also helped to secure additional food for the family, so that Azhagu is strong enough to handle the strong TB medication.
‘Azhagu is much better now,’ says his father. ‘Before the TB treatment he had lost his appetite and had no energy. He’s back to being a happy little boy, and we have Valarmathi to thank for that. We knew nothing about TB before we met her, but she has given us so much support and advice. We wouldn’t have known what to do without her help, and really she’s like the angel of god – she saved our son’s life.’
Mwasana Chipangola is 30 and lives in a dry, dusty compound called Kalingalinga, in the Zambian capital of Lusaka. Mwasana isn’t married, so she lives with her father and stepmother, and looks after her five young brothers and sisters. Mwasana became extremely ill and weak in 2009 but didn’t know what was wrong. Luckily, she lived very close by to Precious, one of our community volunteers. Precious took Mwasana straight to our partner, Zatulet, for diagnosis and help. Mwasana diligently took her antibiotic TB treatment, and with Precious supporting her, she started to gain strength.
However, her bad chest just wouldn’t improve and eventually, back at Zatulet, she was tested and found to be HIV positive. Co-infection with HIV can often make TB extremely difficult to diagnose and to treat. In fact, one third of all HIV and Aids related deaths around the world are from TB. So, Mwasana had to change her treatment and she needed the support of Precious more than ever before. When Mwasana was diagnosed with TB, she felt stigmatised and she experienced discrimination from some people in her community. Mwasana became so ill, and had so much difficulty moving about, that she was often carried in a wheelbarrow. She was laughed at and made to feel very unhappy.
Even her family reacted badly to her illness. They were worried that she was so sick and unable to work, and therefore unable to earn money for food. Happily, Mwasana’s health has been improving steadily since then. When we met her in early 2010, she was on the road to full recovery from TB, feeling much stronger and better able to look after her siblings. Mwasana says it is the support she received from Target TB and its partner Zatulet that has helped her to cope. She told us ‘I look forward to Precious visiting every week’.