Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Zambian Caregiver Driven by Love to Visit TB Patients (AUDIO)

July 19, 2013

The government-run health clinic I visited this morning in Lusaka, Zambia, as a visiting International Reporting Project fellow was bustling. Dozens of women, babies, children, and men milled about the small, free-standing houses that make up the clinic, which was certainly bare-bones by Western standards. The accommodations for male circumcision, for example, was a stretcher bed with garbage bags for sheets.

For the TB patients who show up for treatment--and attendance can be a challenge--one of the N’gombe Integrated HIV/TB Clinic’s main offering is DOTS (directly observed treatment, short-course). DOTS is the WHO-endorsed strategy for controlling tuberculosis. Staff counsel patients as a group, before the patients take their medication individually in front of a health worker. 

For a variety of reasons, patients sometimes fail to show up, and when that happens, volunteer caregivers are sent to locate the missing patients and to try to coax them to adhere to treatment.

Part of Rebecca Nkhoma’s job is to convince unwilling or unenthusiastic patients to return to grueling treatment regimens, and she’s a volunteer. In the interview, she explains--with the help of a translator--how personal tragedy inspired her to take on such a difficult challenge.

 
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