18-year-old recovers from tuberculosis

TB victim Mouniratou, of Bobo-Dioulassou, Burkina Fasto, is seated in from of Djeneba Baro, a community worker who helped nurse Mouniratou through her diesease in Burkina Faso. (Photo: Kerstin Gosse/UNDP)
TB victim Mouniratou (front) with community worker Djeneba Baro in Burkina Faso. (Photo: Kerstin Gosse/UNDP)

With a bright smile on her face 18-year-old Mouniratou, of Bobo-Dioulassou, Burkina Faso, is the embodiment of happiness itself. Two weeks ago she took the last of her Tuberculosis (TB) medication, putting an end to a six-month long treatment for the disease.

 “I was so ill that I could not even walk by myself to my first meeting with the doctor," says Mouniratou. 

Highlights

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in Burkina Faso, where more than 2,700 new cases of TB were reported in 2008.
  • A UNDP-supported community care project has raised the success rate of TB treatment in the country from 60% in 2000 to 72% in 2007.
  • Since the project's inception in 2005, more than 5,300 people have benefited from the community care services it offers.

"I was convinced that I would die, but I have received great support and I am so glad to be alive,” she continues before turning to give a big hug to Djeneba Baro, a community worker who helped Mouniratou through her treatment as part of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-sponsored TB community care project.

Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in Burkina Faso, where more than 2,700 new cases were reported in 2008.

With the community care project, UNDP aims to reduce the negative impact of this phenomenon by training civil society organizations to do the things medical services do not have the time or the means to do. Among other things, this includes assuring that patients adhere strictly to their treatment.

“We used to have many people who did not turn up for treatment, but no possibilities to look for missing patients. In this respect, the collaboration with community associations respond to a great need.” says Ablasse Sakande, a nurse who administers TB treatments in Bobo-Dioulasso.

The TB care project is managed by UNDP's Programme d'Appui au Monde Associatif et Communautaire (PAMAC), which was established in 2003 at the request of Burkina Faso's National Aids Council.

Financed by UNDP and other international and bilateral partners, PAMAC works to coordinate and empower community-based initiatives in Burkina Faso that fight diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Through the TB community care project, it has set up a nationwide network of community associations that support patients during their treatment.

Since the network's inception in 2005, more than 5,300 people have benefitted from services provided by community workers like Djeneba Baro, who pay patients regular visits and assist them in understanding what they need to do to get well.

“As soon as there are patients who do not turn up at the clinic, I go to see them in their homes. Often there are natural explanations as to why they do not show up. They may be too ill and many do not have the means to pay for the transport”, says Baro, who has a long list of patients whom she visits regularly.

As a result of this initiative, successful TB treatment in Burkina Faso has risen. Evaluations show that patients who have received at least three home visits during their treatment recover more quickly and completely than those who have not had access to community service support.