Charles bounces back to health after MDR-TB treatment
When he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, Charles Ejiga, who hails from Olamaboro in Kogi State, quickly took action. His mother had died three years earlier from tuberculosis and he was the one who took care of her. "When I heard I was suffering from TB in 2010, after diagnosis, I was so scared and did not want to die so I quickly took action and presented myself for treatment. I remembered how my mum suffered from it. She went to several prayer houses, took so many drugs and medications to no avail. If only we knew what we know now," says Charles.
After taking TB medications for some months, Charles improved considerably and started working in an IT outlet. "But after several months, my condition worsened again and one day, my boss who had grown fond of me took me to the hospital where he was told to let me go to avoid infecting everyone at work. That was how I lost my job." Days later, he was advised to run another test, which he did and was advised to go to the IHVN supported National Tuberculosis Leprosy Training Center (NBLTC) for help. There, I was tested and diagnosed positive for Multi Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB)." He was admitted and recovered after treatment for eight months.
For Charles, it is a bitter sweet recovery because, unfortunately, it has become a family issue, as his elder brother, John (real name withheld) has also come down with MDR-TB and is currently on admission. "I am really grateful to God for this program and would ensure that no family of mine would die from it again, I lost my mum because she was not aware of this opportunity. Now, everyone knows about IHVN and the treatment I was given so, when my brother also became ill, I quickly told him about this opportunity. Even though it took a while convincing him because of his job, he eventually agreed and is now admitted and receiving treatment," he said. Charles has bounced back and has even been given his job back.
The FCT Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Coordinator, NTLCP, Dr. Josephine Okechukwu noted that John's other family members have been tested for TB. "Fortunately, John's wife has gone for gene-expert test and came out negative along with the baby and a young boy living with them. We are happy with the state of things right now," she says. Dr. Okechukwu urged employers of labor to stop stigmatization and accept staff that have completed treatment and have been certified TB/MDRTB-free, back into their workforce."
"Right now, what we do is give them a cover letter notifying the organization of the condition of the patient indicating the duration of treatment and hope that when they are through, they would be re-integrated into the system. But when some of these patients come back, they are not absolved and have nowhere to go and unfortunately, we have no legal backing to insist the employers take them back in," she said.
According to her, drug adherence is a serious problem with young people resulting MDR-TB being common among them. For instance, poor drug adherence was what made Peter Ameh, a graduate of College of Education Kogi develop MDR-TB after treating tuberculosis. The death of his mother, who was taking care of him, precipitated a period of depression leading him to an 8 months admission in NTBLTC after being diagnosed with MDR-TB. "Several nurses frequently came to counsel and encourage me to keep taking my drugs and this motivated me to live. After I left the hospital, I was advised to continue with the drugs for two years, which I successfully completed last year, 2014," he said. Peter, who at a time, was a subject of gossip due to his illness, is now happy and well.
IHVN Senior Program Officer Medical, Dr. Vivian Ibeziako said, "To prevent DR-TB, it is important that the individual adheres to the second line drugs while on treatment for Rifampicin, mono, poly, multi & extremely-drug resistant TB. The symptomatic contacts of DR-TB patients should always be screened by health professionals to rule out DR-TB infection," she says
Like Charles and Peter, over 1000 people have benefited from MDR-TB treatment with the financial support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria through IHVN.