WHEN tuberculosis (TB) sets in a person for the second time, treatment mode is changed from tablets to a combination of tablets and injections. This is done to offer a more effective treatment regimen to the patient as using the first line medication will render treatment ineffective. The main tablets used in Zimbabwe to treat tuberculosis are rifampicin and isoniazid.
A cocktail of other tablets is added, making the treatment a challenge to some patients due to pill fatigue. TB treatment at times calls for direct observation at the clinic or health facility where health personnel need to monitor a patient taking medication daily. The challenge of daily observed treatments (DOTS) is the time spent getting to a health facility.
Travelling to and fro for someone ill is tiresome and for those who have to get onto buses proves expensive as cash is required on a daily basis. “Travelling to the clinic for me to get injections everyday is a challenge. This is the fourth month that I have had to travel for an injection everyday and it has taken its toll on me.
“It is not everyday that I have bus fare so at times I travel 6km on foot. It is tiresome and difficult. No wonder why some people quit and retire to die at home. “I hope someone builds a makeshift home to house TB patients near clinics in our farming area,” said Mr Jairos Sokorimwe, who works in Burma Valley and has relocated to his home area of Chitakatira to recover as he has access to health care from Rowa Clinic in his rural area.
Mr Sokorimwe decries the many injections he gets everyday and hoped one day the period would be lowered from six months to a bearable time.
“Six months is such a long time. Imagine the same time when you are ill, it seems ‘years’ as one struggles with medication, going to and fro the clinic, at times being admitted in the hospital, then for an outpatient who is not going to work the challenges of getting bus fare are all too insurmountable,” said Mr Sokorimwe. Second line medication used to treat a patient who gets TB for the second time has some serious side effects for some.
The challenges highlighted by Dr Mwali are not unique to Malawi alone, they affect us too in Zimbabwe as Mr Sokorimwe pointed out. Burma Valley area spreading to Chitakatira is mountainous too and a sick patient has challenges going to a health facility in the area. For a second time TB patient resistance may set in.
This is picked up by some tests run as he naked eye does not. “Toxicity may lead to lose of hearing,” he added. Mr Sokorimwe is not alone in the challenges he faces, as many more patients are in the same boat with him. cleaners, and keep toxic items in your garage or storage area safely out of reach. Consider keeping alcoholic beverages under lock and key.